Fines begin Jan. 1 for those texting while driving

December 14th, 2010

FRANKFORT, Ky. (Dec. 14, 2010) – A reminder to all Kentucky drivers:  Fines begin Jan. 1, 2011, for anyone caught texting while driving and for those under 18 who use a cell phone while driving.  Violators will be liable for fines of $25 on a first offense and $50 on each subsequent offense, plus court costs.

“Safety is a top priority of this administration,” said Gov. Steve Beshear.  “I am convinced that this new law, which many people worked with us to pass, will reduce crashes and fatalities on Kentucky roadways.”   

In Kentucky last year, there were more than 57,000 crashes – and more than 200 fatalities — attributed to driver distraction, inattention and cell phone use.   

Gov. Beshear signed House Bill 415 into law on April 15, 2010.  The law bans texting for drivers of all ages while the vehicle is in motion.  For drivers over 18, it allows the use of global positioning devices and reading, selecting or entering a telephone number or name for the purpose of making a phone call.  Texting is allowed only to report illegal activity or to request medical or emergency aid. 

For drivers under 18, no use of personal communication devices such as cell phones and pagers is allowed while the vehicle is in motion.  The use of a global positioning system is allowed, but manually entering information must be completed while the vehicle is stopped.   

Emergency and public safety vehicles are exempt when the use of a personal communication device is essential to the operator’s official duties.   

“We believe the law will encourage drivers to stay focused on the task at hand,” said Transportation Secretary Mike Hancock.  “And with tighter provisions for those under 18, our new drivers will automatically be educated on this important safe driving practice.” 

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, driver distraction and inattention contributes to 25 percent of police-responded traffic crashes nationwide.  Inexperienced drivers under 20 years old have the highest proportion of distraction-related fatal crashes. 

Kentucky was the 22nd state to ban texting while driving. Currently, 30 states and the District of Columbia ban text messaging for all drivers. Twelve of these laws were enacted in 2010 alone.        Information on distracted driving is at http://distraction.gov and http://highwaysafety.ky.gov/.

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