Distracted driving has evolved into one of the most pressing issues in the United States. Many experts have even gone so far as to compare the risk of driving distracted to driving drunk or while under the influence of drugs. The discouraging trends associated with this issue have led Kentucky legislators to put their foot down against distracted driving.
Legislators have officially filed multiple bills that would effectively ban the use of cellphones and other distracting electronic devices while driving. These bills would make Kentucky a hands-free state, which refers to prohibiting the usage of electronics while driving except in the case of emergency.
“It’s become one of the most dangerous problems we face today,” said Lynda Lambert of AAA Louisville. “Just as much as drinking and driving and drugged driving, distracted driving is a huge problem for one reason: cellphones.”
The goal of this decision is to provide a more significant deterrent against using your cellphone while operating a motor vehicle. Kentucky has already made texting while driving illegal, but this has seemingly had little effect.
Implementing a stricter bill would hopefully create a greater incentive to put down your cellphone. Violators would be fined $50 for a first offense and any ensuing infractions would see the fine go up exponentially.
“I’m well aware that we are not going to stop everyone, and it’s not going to be roadblocks, but it will be a deterrent,” said Republican representative Regina Huff. “Hopefully, that will cause a majority of the people not to do it.”
The bill Huff specifically introduced reportedly closely resembles the hands-free law that the state of Tennessee put into effect this past July. Tennessee’s Department of Safety and Homeland Security reported a small but positive change from this point last year. There were 18,892 crashes caused by distracted driving at this point last year compared to 19,995 incidents to date this year.
Representatives James Tipton and Steve Shelton also co-introduced a bill that would effectively ban the use of all personal communication devices while driving.
Legislators understand that there could be pushback from those of the opinion that the new law could infringe on their rights. Ultimately, the goal is to protect the safety of everyone on the road.
“I also have children and grandchildren on the road,” Huff said. “It’s not that much to just make sure that you’re not endangering the lives of others when you’re driving.”