Legislation targets distracted drivers

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Nebraska and New Jersey lawmakers have introduced bills that would punish distracted driving in those states with a $100 fine. But drivers would not lose motor vehicle points or insurance points if guilty of distracted driving.

Nebraska’s bill, LB1108, not only would bar all cell phone use while driving but also outlaw any behavior that results in unsafe driving, including “reading, writing, performing personal grooming, interacting with pet animals, adjusting cargo or other actions that distract the person’s attention from operating the vehicle.” The bill would not apply to use of GPS systems, vehicle information displays or emergency phone calls.

New Jersey lawmakers referred a bill Jan. 10 to the Assembly’s Transportation and Public Works Committee that would bar distracted driving and beef up the current ban against handheld cell use while driving. This bill, A1966, prohibits a driver from “engaging in any activity not related to the operation of the vehicle in a manner that interferes with the safe operation of the vehicle.” Unlike the Nebraska bill, it does not specify examples of distracting behavior, but does require the law enforcement officer to record on the summons what sidetracked the driver’s attention.

The New Jersey bill also would allow police to stop drivers for handheld cell phone use alone, without requiring some other driving offense to occur as in current law. The fine for violators, currently $100 to $250, would be changed to a set fine of $100 plus another $100 for distracted driving.