In this article we will provide an overview of the texting and driving laws in Kentucky, as well as state rules for mobile phone use while operating a motor vehicle. With further questions about Kentucky traffic laws or legal options following a car accident, reach out to an attorney with experience in car accident law, or truck accident law if your situation involves a commercial truck.
Texting and Driving Laws in Kentucky
Mobile device rules and texting laws for drivers vary from state to state. Drivers in our state need to know: Is texting and driving banned in Kentucky? As of 2010, texting is banned for all drivers of a moving motor vehicle in Kentucky. This includes writing, reading, and sending text messages. Kentucky is not alone in this decision. Because texting and driving is a known cause of accidents, 48 states, Washington D.C., Puerto Rico, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands have banned text messaging for all drivers.
Mobile devices may only be used by certain groups of drivers under a limited set of circumstances. Only drivers 18 and over may use a cell phone in a vehicle, and only to operate a GPS or enter a name or phone number to make a phone call. Talking on the phone while driving is not illegal in Kentucky, but it must be done under safe conditions, which we will discuss below.
Drivers under the age of 18 are not allowed to use any mobile communication device while driving. New and inexperienced drivers are already the age group most likely to be involved in a crash, and the added distraction of a cell phone would only increase the risk of accident. If an under-18 driver wants to use a cell phone for GPS navigation, all information must be entered while the vehicle is stopped. Drivers under 18 are not allowed to interact with a phone screen while the vehicle is in motion.
The Kentucky Office of Highway Safety (KOHS) makes recommendations regarding how Kentucky drivers 18 and over can safely use a cell phone while driving for the purposes allowed by law. The KOHS advises that eligible drivers using a mobile device while driving should:
- Position the phone so it is easy to reach without looking
- Dial numbers or enter GPS information before moving, while the vehicle is safely parked
- Avoid any stressful or emotional conversations that could distract and upset you
- Tell the caller you need to end a conversation if you are distracted
- Always use good judgment and know when to pull over if needed
It’s always better to err on the side of safety. It may seem like reading a quick text or checking an email can be managed in under a few seconds. But those few seconds could make all the difference in your own or someone else’s life. You are never as safe with your eyes on a screen as you are with your eyes on the road.
Why Texting Behind the Wheel Is So Dangerous
Most of us are familiar with the statistics. We’ve heard the messages, and we know texting and driving is dangerous. At the same time, most of us tend to operate under a “it won’t happen to me” assumption. But with thousands of people killed every year in distracted driving accidents, we all need to recognize that the texting and driving problem in our country is not someone else’s problem.
Next time you consider checking a text message or email while driving, we encourage you to remember the following statistics:
- About eight people die every day in the U.S. in crashes with distracted drivers.
- At 55 mph, reading a text message is equivalent to driving the length of a football field blindfolded.
- The impairment associated with using a cell phone while driving is equal to the impairment a person experiences at 0.08 BAC—the legal definition of “drunk” in most states, including Kentucky.
- The age group of 15 to 19 year old drivers has the largest proportion of drivers who were distracted at the time of a fatal crash.
- About 1 in 5 people killed in distracted driving accidents are pedestrians or bicyclists.
- The risk of a crash is up to six times greater when a driver is handling a cell phone.
Other Sources of Distraction
Distracted driving is one of the top five causes of vehicle accidents in Kentucky. Texting or using a phone is certainly one of the primary sources of distraction. But there are other distractions that frequently take drivers’ focus off the road. A distraction can be anything that impairs a driver’s ability to operate the vehicle with their full attention. There are three main types of distraction:
- Visual Impairment. Your eyes are off the road.
- Manual Impairment. Your hands are off the wheel.
- Cognitive Impairment. Your mind is off the task of driving.
A distraction can come from anywhere, but these are some of the more common distractions known to cause auto collisions:
- Having conversations with other people in the vehicle
- Adjusting music, radio, or podcasts
- Wearing earphones or headphones
- Personal grooming
- Eating or drinking
- Watching videos
- Live-streaming or video-calling (such as Facetiming) with another person
- Adjusting controls in the vehicle
- Paying attention to scenery instead of the road
- Reading or taking notes
- Attempting to multitask while driving
- Dealing with children, especially those crying or fighting in the back seat
- Handling pets, especially those unrestrained and free to move around the vehicle
- Any other activity that takes your mind, hands, ears, or eyes off the task of driving
How a Car Accident Lawyer Protects Crash Victims
One of the jobs of a car accident attorney is to fight for the rights of those hurt by another party’s wrongful actions. When someone makes a poor decision behind the wheel, another person should not be made to pay the price.
For individuals and families whose lives were affected by a texting and driving accident, there are legal measures to take to ensure that the liable party is held responsible for negligent actions. We have helped many clients injured in distracted driving accidents receive the compensation needed to cover medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other damages.
Please reach out to Golden Law Office to schedule a free case evaluation. We will begin with a conversation about how your life was impacted by a texting and driving car accident and what we may be able to do to help you recover.