Kentucky transportation officials say driving and texting has reached epidemic levels and enforcement is part of the cure. The officials say people need to know they're serious about stopping this deadly behavior. For National Distracted Driving Awareness Month, which starts Tuesday, Kentucky police will be cracking down on motorists who text behind the wheel as part of the nationwide U Drive. UText. U Pay campaign.
Kentucky Office of Highway Safety Executive Director Bill Bell says texting while driving can be more dangerous than impaired driving.
"When you text while driving, you take your eyes off the road, hands off the wheel, and mind off the task of driving," Bell said. "That puts everyone else's lives in danger, and no one has the right to do that on our roadways."
What's legal, what's not
Kentucky's texting law took effect April 15, 2010. It bans texting for drivers of all ages while the vehicle is in motion. If you're over 18, you are allowed to use global positioning devices and make calls on cell phones.
"But if you're obviously surfing or typing a text message then you will be pulled over and cited," said Bell.
You can only text to report illegal activity or to request medical or emergency aid.
For drivers under 18, no use of personal communication devices is allowed while the vehicle is moving. The exception being that GPS is allowed, but has to be set up while the vehicle is stopped.
The fine for breaking Kentucky's texting law is $25 for a first offense and $50 for each subsequent violation, plus court costs.
There's an app for that
Bell said his office has partnered with Mobile Life Solutions to add one more tool to deal with texting while driving. It's an app that removes the temptation to text and drive by limiting or disabling the ability to receive a text once your car reaches a certain speed.
"This is an excellent way for parents to make sure their teen drivers cannot receive or send a text while driving, and for companies to manage texting while their drivers are behind the wheel of a fleet vehicle," Bell said.
The app is available at textlimit.com and costs $24.99 per year. Bell said it's free for Kentucky residents for the first year by using the coupon code NOTEXTKY.