Nebraska Department of Transportation using digital technology to collect texting, seatbelt data – KMTV 3 News Now Omaha

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — Recently, as motorists drove along Nebraska roads, they might have passed digital technology from a company called Acusensus.

A device made by the company was on a trailer throughout the state. It can tell if a driver’s seatbelt is on and if their phone is in their hand.

“You know there are a lot of people that are distracted, so we’re just trying to get a good sense while they’re actually driving,” said Bill Kovarik, highway administrator at the Nebraska Department of Transportation.

NDOT recently released some data from the initial digital inspection; it showed around 10% of Nebraska drivers had their phones in hand and 15% were not wearing seatbelts.

NDOT reported that Acusensor said the seatbelt use in Nebraska “is the highest non-use rate we have seen in the U.S.”

While the first round was with grant money, the agency is now looking at potentially combining some state and federal dollars to learn more.

“We’re hoping to do more locations just to get a better sampling of what drivers are actually doing,” said Kovarik.

To be clear, right now only data is being collected and it could simply stay that way.

The public will be largely unaware it’s being monitored for data, for now. If the state ever starts writing tickets based on the data, state law would need to be changed and the public will be notified.

“If somewhere down the road it was used for enforcement, definitely there would be notification out there to the public, but I don’t see that happening in the near future,” said Kovarik.

The Nebraska State Patrol emphasized that license plate or personal data is not being collected in any way.

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