Legislators debate stricter auto safety laws

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Updated: Mon, 27 Jan 2014 08:27:56 CST

Earlier this month six people were killed within four days due to traffic accidents in Nebraska.

That's not an uncommon statistic, Nebraska ranks among the worst states in traffic safety laws.

This, according to Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety.

21 Nebraska legislators are standing behind the Nebraska Roadway Safety Act. It outlines a number of tougher safety restrictions.

If it's passed this session, we could soon rate among the top.

Right now, Nebraska has a red light when it comes to traffic enforcement laws, LB 807 defines a few changes that some say will make a lifetime of difference.

"The ones that cause us the biggest problems are speeding, failing to yield, following too close, improper passing, things like that, traffic violations, those are the ones that get people hurt." Said Lt. Bill Keeling with the Nebraska State Patrol.

The Nebraska State Patrol welcomed News 5 to ride along for a routine patrol on Friday.

Lieutenant Keeling stopped a speeding car.

The driver and his passenger are both wearing seatbelts, but if they weren't,that's a secondary offense.

"If I stop a car for speeding and write them a ticket for speeding and they're not wearing their seatbelt, then I can write them a ticket for the seatbelt." Explained Lt. Keeling.

LB 807 would make seatbelt violations a primary offense for all people not buckled up, meaning an officer can pull a car over for that reason alone.

Between 1993 and 2013, there were 3,505 fatalities from unbelted occupants in Nebraska.

Last year 71 people were ejected in a rollover crash.

Rose White with AAA Nebraska says some of the most important driving issues are currently secondary offenses.

Distracted driving remains at the top of the list, but this bill would make texting while driving a primary offense.

"It's really hard to see. It's not something that's easy to detect." Said Lt. Keeling of spotting drivers on their cell phones.

Lawmakers believe that making texting while driving a primary offense will convince drivers to keep their hands on the wheel.

"You're not going to stop every violation, but if you can be seen you can at least have an impression, make an impression." Said Lt. Keeling

This bill also makes a few changes for young drivers.

Right now talking on a cell phone while driving is perfectly legal, but the bill seeks to make that illegal for school bus drivers.

A hearing for the bill is scheduled on Tuesday, January 28th.