The Kentucky State Police lists distracted driving as the leading contributing human factor for car crashes.
Shortly after the driver of a tractor-trailer who was watching a video on his cell phone crashed into the rear of a Jeep Cherokee and killed the driver, State Rep. James Tipton announced that he plans to propose new hands-free driving legislation in 2020. The state’s current law only prohibits texting, emailing and messaging while driving. The proposed new law would prohibit driving with a cell phone or any other communication device in a driver’s hand. Under the proposed law, a driver wouldn’t even be able to use a communication device at a red light.
Rep.Tipton originally contemplated specifically prohibiting drivers from using websites like Facebook or Twitter, but after speaking with law enforcement officials, he learned about the difficulties involved in proving such cases. That’s when a blanket prohibition was proposed. The only exceptions to the bill would be communications of an emergency nature like accidents, medical events or illegal activity. Using a finger to activate a phone would also be allowed.
The fine for violating the current texting while driving law is $25. If the new bill is passed, that would increase to $100, with up to $2,000 for subsequent offenses. Rep. Tipton remarked that the use of cell phones while driving is a serious issue, and “lives are at stake.” By late October of 2019, 286 people were injured and five people were killed in crashes related to cell phone use. In 2018, 314 people were injured and another four were killed.
The Kentucky State Police lists distracted driving as the leading contributing human factor for car crashes. Nine of those crashes were fatal in 2017. If the new bill works its way through the legislative process in 2020, Kentucky would be the 20th state in the nation to make it illegal to drive with a cellular phone in a driver’s hand.