Special to the Enterprise
March 30, 2014
FRANKFORT – In conjunction with National Distracted Driving Awareness Month, law enforcement agencies in Kentucky are stepping up efforts to persuade drivers to put down the phone as part of the first national texting enforcement crackdown – U Drive. U Text. U Pay.
“People need to know that we are serious about stopping this deadly behavior,” said Kentucky Transportation Secretary Mike Hancock, who is Gov. Steve Beshear’s designated representative on highway safety and chair of the Governor’s Executive Committee on Highway Safety.
“We are distributing federal overtime funds to select agencies throughout the state to strictly enforce our anti-texting law. Driving and texting has reached epidemic levels, and enforcement is part of the cure,” Secretary Hancock said.
Violating Kentucky’s texting law, which took effect April 15, 2010, can be costly. Violators will be liable for fines of $25 on a first offense and $50 on each subsequent offense, plus court costs.
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.
For drivers under 18, no use of personal communication devices, such as cell phones and pagers, is 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.
“When you text while driving, you take your eyes off the road, hands off the wheel, and mind off the task of driving,” Kentucky Office of Highway Safety (KOHS) Director Bill Bell said. “That puts everyone else’s lives in danger, and no one has the right to do that on our roadways.”
Adding one more tool to combat texting and driving, KOHS partnered with Mobile Life Solutions on a “Text Limit” application.
The “Text Limit” app, available at www.textlimit.com, eliminates the temptation to text and drive by limiting or disabling the ability to receive a text once your vehicle reaches a set speed that you determine. Once the vehicle slows to your selected speed, the phone features become active again. Also, you may set a “maximum top-speed” that will cause the administrator to receive an email or text when the vehicle in which the phone is being transported exceeds the selected speed.
The cost is $24.99 per year, but with the code NOTEXTKY it is free for the first year.
“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.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, there were 3,328 people killed and 421,000 injured nationwide in distraction-affected crashes in 2012, the most recent year for which data is available. The University of Michigan’s Transportation Research Institute reports that a quarter of teens respond to a text message once or more every time they drive, and 20 percent of teens and 10 percent of parents admit that they have extended, multi-message text conversations while driving.
For more information, visit www.distraction.gov.