Ky. ban on texting while driving becomes law

FRANKFORT, KY (FOX19) - A law that bans texting while driving is now in effect in Kentucky.

The law that took effect on Thursday, July 15 bans texting for all drivers and cell phone use for drivers under 18.

"I was proud to support and sign this law into effect, and strongly believe this will further our efforts to reduce fatalities on Kentucky roadways," Gov. Steve Beshear said.  "Safety is a top priority of my administration, and this law will help increase awareness of the dangers of texting while driving and encourage drivers to stay focused on the road."

According to the Kentucky Office of Highway Safety, Kentucky recorded more than 57,000 crashes last year – and more than 200 fatalities – attributed to driver distraction and inattention.

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.

"We are convinced that this new law will save lives," said Acting Transportation Secretary Mike Hancock. "The message to drivers is to eliminate distractions and stay focused on the road. Driving a motor vehicle requires your undivided attention."

For drivers under 18, use of all personal communication devices such as cell phones and pagers is not 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.

"People text what are you doing tonight, it's hard to wait until I get home or something to reply," said Danny Seifried, a 17-year-old Kentucky driver. "Sometimes I do it at stoplights."

Law enforcement officers will issue warnings until Jan. 1, 2011.  On or after Jan. 1, violators will be liable for fines of $25 on a first offense and $50 on each subsequent offense.

Tom Scheben, spokesman for the Boone County Sheriff's Department, says it's not hard to spot drivers who are texting.

"They'll slow down, slide side to side in lane or even hit a curb," said Scheben. "You know when you see it's erratic behavior."

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