LINCOLN — Nebraska's elderly drivers can relax, now that a bill requiring those 80 and older to pass a cognitive test before renewing their licenses failed to get out of committee.
Meeting in executive session Monday, the Legislature's Transportation and Telecommunications Committee did not advance Legislative Bill 351 but also did not kill it. That means it could come up again next session.
The committee also laid over a bill that would have toughened enforcement of seat belt requirements and one that would have made texting while driving a primary traffic offense.
Testing the mental acuity of older drivers emerged as one of the more controversial bills of the legislative session. Many drivers who would have had to pass such an exam opposed the bill, although some of their relatives credited the measure with at least trying to address a difficult issue.
None of the committee members voiced support for the approach Monday.
Sen. Annette Dubas of Fullerton, committee chairwoman, said she does not intend to have the committee hold an interim study on the issue. But the bill's sponsor, Sen. John Harms of Scottsbluff, could pursue his own study in an effort to rally support.
As for seat belts, LB 10 and LB 189 would do essentially the same thing: Require everyone in a vehicle to buckle up and allow police to pull over and ticket unbelted motorists as a primary offense. Under current law, only drivers and front-seat passengers must use a seat belt, and an officer must see another violation before writing a seat belt ticket.
Texting while driving is also a secondary offense. LB 118 would allow police to stop a texting driver without first having to identify another reason for the stop.
During public hearings on the seat belt and texting bills, several citizens and safety organizations testified in support, but no one testified against them.
None of the four bills acted upon Monday was designated a priority by a state senator.
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