Iowa, Nebraska Crack Down on Texting While Driving - FOX 42: Omaha News, Sports and Weather; |

Iowa, Nebraska Crack Down on Texting While Driving

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Meghan Youker

OMAHA (KPTM)  -- Text messaging on the road: experts say it's always been dangerous and soon it will be illegal too.

Lawmakers in both Iowa and Nebraska passed bans earlier this year, but drivers can only be stopped and ticketed if they're breaking the law behind the wheel in another way.

Angels, plants and rocks line the edge of their yard.  To Rob and Shari Reynolds, it will always be Cady's garden.  "Cady did not have to die.  It was 100 percent preventable.  All that person had to do was stop at that red light," Rob Reynolds said.

Their daughter, 16-year-old Cady Reynolds, was killed in May 2007 after a fellow teenage driver hit her car.  "She hit Cady going almost 50 mph, didn't even tap her brakes.  We believe strongly that she was distracted by something," Shari Reynolds said.

Ever since, the Reynolds have been on a mission.  Their latest battle was a bill before the Nebraska Legislature to ban texting while driving.  "It really is an epidemic.  It really is something that we need to look at not just as a distraction, but an impairment," Rob Reynolds said.

The law passed and takes effect July 15.  Meanwhile a similar ban goes on the books Thursday in Iowa.  "Our first priority when we're driving is to drive," said Trooper Keith Bell of the Nebraska State Patrol.

But enforcing the laws may prove problematic, especially since troopers won't be able to pull someone over solely for texting.  Still officials hope the bans will change behavior.  "It's not worth someone's life or someone's property just because you're trying to get ahead on a couple of emails," Bell said.

The Reynolds believe the laws will have less of an impact because texting won't be a primary traffic offense.  But they say they're still a step in the right direction.  "I think it sends the message that we are on the right path and that path isn't even half way trotted yet.  I think we have a long way to go," Rob Reynolds said.

Though the law takes effect July 1 in Iowa, there will be a yearlong campaign to let people know about it, as well as a law that bars drivers under 18 from using cell phones at all.  During that time, people will only get written warnings.  After that, violators will face a $30 fine and that gets larger if police think texting led to an accident or injury.

In Nebraska, the law is much stiffer.  It's a $200 fine for the first offense and three points on your driving record.

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