Distracted driving legislation is needed in Kentucky

Published 11:37 pm Thursday, October 3, 2019


The Advocate-Messenger

Kentucky could be the next state to enact a law that would prohibit using a cell phone or other personal communication devices in any way while driving.

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The Hands-Free Driving bill is proposed by state Reps. James Tipton and Steve Sheldon, and basically means drivers would not be able to hold a cell phone in their hands while behind the wheel.

Fines for those who break the proposed law would range from $100 for the first offense to $200 for the second. First-time offenders could also elect to do traffic school.

This proposed law comes at a time when distracted driving crashes are on the rise, claiming an average of more than 3,000 lives each year.

Distracted driving involves anything that takes your attention away from the road, whether that is eating, changing the radio station, messing with a GPS system, or more commonly, using a cell phone.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, texting while driving — whether sending or reading messages — takes  your eyes off the road for at least five seconds. If traveling 55 miles per hour, you could travel the entire length of a football field during the time it takes to read or send a text message. Imagine what could happen in that span of time.

Texting is especially dangerous because it takes your eyes off the road, takes your hands off the wheel and takes your mind off what you should be focused on, which is driving.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report each day in the United States, approximately nine people are killed and more than 1,000 injured in crashes that are reported to involve a distracted driver.

We support a bill that would make it illegal to use a cell phone behind the wheel in any way that has been shown to be unsafe. If you must use a cell phone as a GPS system, there are ways to go hands-free that can create a safer driving experience.

As technology advances, we must continue to mold our laws to make sure we are being responsible and safe. A law that would prohibit distracted driving and make it punishable could save many lives each year.