I was stopped at a stoplight on the corner of 27th Street and Avenue B the other day innocently minding my own business (and contemplating the delicacies I was hoping to enjoy at lunch very soon thereafter) when I noticed a blue vehicle swerving toward me. At first I thought the driver intended to enter the center turn lane (there is really no true center lane but that was my fleeting hope at the time). Then I noticed that the driver was not even looking out his windshield but rather, he was looking down! At that split second I looked around for some sort of way to avoid being struck by his vehicle and I braced for impact because I realized I was boxed in
between the cars in front and in back of me who were also stopped at the light. (My parents taught me to drive defensively by always keeping “an out” available in order to avoid an accident but when you are stopped at a stop light, what are you going to do?) Thankfully the driver of the oncoming vehicle looked up in time to see he was swerving and jerked the vehicle back into his own lane. As I glared out my window at him (not exactly a “road rage” glare, but darn close!) I noticed he was holding a cell phone! Arrggh!
Although it would not have protected me against injury if that driver had actually struck my vehicle, but I am pleased to see that the Governor of Nebraska has signed a new “Texting While Driving” law into effect that would have enforced additional penalties against the distracted driver. Bill 945 states that, "No person shall use a handheld wireless communication device to read, manually type, or send a written communication while operating a motor vehicle which is in motion." The wording of the Bill also outlines the following definition: "Handheld wireless communication device includes, but is not limited to, a mobile or cellular telephone, a text messaging device, a personal digital assistant, a pager, or a laptop computer." This is a secondary offense which means that the driver would have to commit a primary offense such as speeding (or striking a poor, defenseless, hungry insurance agent sitting at a red light). The penalty for the first violation is $200, second offense is $300, and all subsequent violations incur a $500 fine.
I am happy to see this legislation because accidents caused by distracted driving are definitely on the rise. Now don’t get me wrong, I am just as tempted while driving as the next person to reach for my Blackberry, which is never far from my side (and if it gets too far, I’ve been accused of hyperventilating until I can get my hands on it again!). However, the evidence is overwhelming against using such a device while driving. In fact, some offenses have been caught on tape as is the case in this video that I first saw on a blog I follow written by Vaughn Insurance in Henderson, KY:
While watching did you find yourself pressing your feet into the floor in a desparate attempt to slow the bus? I sure did!
I urge you to show this video to everyone you know and to speak to your children about the dangers of texting while driving and driving while distracted. You can access more information about Nebraska law with respect to texting and other driving issues at DrivingLaws.org. If you have more questions about this or any other insurance issue, please feel free to contact our agents at 308-436-4202 or visit our website at http://www.insurance-by-katie.com/
What is your reaction to the texting video and this issue?