New bill aims to further restrict phones on Ky. roadways

COVINGTON, KENTUCKY (FOX19) - A bill that further restricts the use of cell phones in Kentucky is gaining momentum.

The bill would make it illegal to initiate a call or type a phone number while in a one of the 'no phone zones,' which include school and construction zones.

Current state law forbids texting while driving.

Those in favor of the bill say it will better protect workers and students, while preventing accidents.

Those opposed say people should have the right to talk on the phone as long as they obey all the rules of the road.

Bluetooth or hands free technology is exempt from this bill. Fines will increase to $50 for a first offense, and $100 for any subsequent violation of the law.

"I feel like all of us using our cell phones, it's a habit that we've all gotten into and it would be hard for us to break that habit but for the safety of people I think we should try to break the habit," said Janet Schmidt.

Schmidt is a local teacher who says this ban on cell phones is especially important in school zones. She says not everyone pays attention to the school speed limit anyway and maybe this will help grab people's attention.

"Around school zones especially where there are going to be children waiting for buses, teenagers driving to and from school, it is a distraction and I could very much see where accidents could be caused," said Schmidt.

The law would also apply to highway work zones. According to the Federal Highway Administration, on average, one person dies every 15 hours and four are injured every hour in a work zone in the United States.

"When you've actually got pedestrians in those lanes of traffic that are maybe moving barrels, moving cones about it's a considerably more dangerous area," said Covington Police Chief Spike Jones.

According to the Governors Highway Safety Association, 12 states prohibit drivers from using hand-held cell phones - and some say Kentucky is lagging behind.

"It doesn't matter whether it's in a school zone or anywhere, what difference does that make? It's a beginning. If that's all they're going to do, that's all they're going to do," said Karl Lietzenmayer.

Covington Police Chief Spike Jones also says it would be a bit easier to enforce this kind of law because it's easier to tell if someone is on the phone with it up to a person's ear, as opposed to someone texting.

The bill cleared the House Transportation Committee on a 17 to 3 vote. It now moves to the House for consideration.

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