Tuesday, January 24, 2017

County Attorney: Laws Against Texting And Driving Save Lives

Steve Franzen. Provided. 
By Steven J. Franzen, Campbell County Attorney

I have written on this subject before, but it is important enough that a refresher on conduct that has almost reached epidemic proportions is in order.  According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), driver distraction is the leading factor in most crashes.


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In Kentucky in 2014, there were over 53,500 crashes resulting in over 14,000 injuries and 169 fatalities due to distracted driving. 10% of all drivers under the age of 20 involved in fatal crashes were reported as distracted at the time of the crash.  Moreover, drivers in their twenties make up 27% of the distracted drivers in fatal crashes.  According to the National Insurance Institute, drivers who are texting are 23% more likely to be in a crash and often display the driving characteristics of a person who is driving under the influence of alcohol.

 There are many types of distractions, but texting while driving is the most alarming because it involves taking your eyes off the road to read, your hands off the wheel to type and your mind off driving to formulate what to say.  This sentiment has been echoed across Kentucky by the Directors of the Office for Highway Safety’s comment that texting while driving “puts everyone else’s lives in danger, and no one has the right to do that on our roadways.”

Kentucky Revised Statute (KRS) 189.292 prohibits drivers from texting while their vehicle is in motion. For drivers who are under eighteen, KRS 189.294 goes a step further by prohibiting both texting and cell phone use all together.  The texting prohibition does not apply to persons using a GPS feature of a device; reading, selecting, or entering of a name into the device; a person operating a public safety vehicle when using the device as an essential function of their official duties; or when a motor vehicle operator is summoning law enforcement, medical help, reporting a crime, or attempting to prevent injury by using the device. The section prohibiting a minor from using any personal communications device is only subject to an exception for summoning medical help or law enforcement or public safety personnel.

These laws were put in place to keep the drivers' focus on the road. Drivers who are texting are 23% more likely to be in a crash and often display the driving characteristics and reaction time of a person who is driving under the influence of alcohol.  Moreover, one study found that driving while using a cell phone reduces the amount of brain activity associated with driving by 37%.  

Drivers who violate the new law will be fined $25 for the first offense and $50 for each subsequent offense, plus court costs.  In addition, a driver will incur three points on their driving record for each no-texting violation.  The Kentucky Department of Transportation can suspend the licenses of drivers who incur a specified number of points within a two-year period – 12 points for drivers 18 and older, seven points for drivers under 18.  Plus, drivers with restricted licenses must wait 180 days after the violation before they can apply for a regular license.

For parents of teens, there is also another tool available to combat texting and driving.  Mobile Life Solutions has created a “Text Limit” app for $24.99 a year, available at www.textlimit.com, that 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, likely the parent, to receive an email or text when the vehicle in which the phone is being transported exceeds the selected speed.

Hardly a day goes by where I do not see a person texting and driving on the road.  We have all witnessed this.  People need to be more aware of how problematic this activity is.  We are all endangered by this conduct.  Please avoid texting and driving because yours or someone else’s life may depend on it.

1 comment:

  1. Moms on cell phones seems to be just as big of a problem

    ReplyDelete