Today marks a week since Kentucky lawmakers passed legislation banning texting while driving across the state. The legislation aims to encourage drivers to keep their eyes on the road rather than their cell phone and their hands on the steering wheel instead of the keys of their mobile device.
The ban includes all counties across the state and was passed in hopes of reducing the number of automobile accidents caused by distracted driving which, according to reports, accounted for 57,000 accidents in the state last year.
The bill prohibits any form of text-based communication while operating a vehicle. Text-based communication includes writing, reading or sending text messages, e-mails, instant messages or using the internet. Drivers over the age of 18 are still allowed to make calls while driving. However, any use of a cell phone while driving is prohibited for drivers aged 16 and 17.
The bill also states that texting while at a red light is also illegal because the driver is still responsible for operating a vehicle safely.
As of now, anyone caught texting while driving will be issued a warning. Beginning Jan. 1, 2011, first time violators will be fined $25 and each subsequent offense will cost the driver $50.
Twenty other states and the District of Columbia currently have similar bans on the use of mobile devices while driving. The details of the ban vary from state to state.
Estill County Sheriff Gary Freeman said he anticipates that the new ban will be hard to enforce and will make very little change in the long run.
Irvine Police Chief James Crowe said that there are not sufficient records of how many automobile accidents have been caused by texting and driving because, “people aren’t willing to admit that they have been texting while driving.”