Wednesday, January 19, 2011

New Kentucky Texting ban is not strong enough

As enforcement of Kentucky’s new anti-texting law begins this month, I believe we need to eliminate all forms of distracted driving. Although I'm glad that Kentucky law enforcement officers can now ticket drivers for texting, I wish the police could crack down on other forms of distracted driving. I believe the texting ban is a move in the right direction, but I don't think it's far enough.

To make our roads safer, we need to prohibit drivers of all ages from using any type of electronic device while behind the wheel. Whether it’s texting, talking on a cell phone or trying to punch an address into a GPS system, it’s distracting, dangerous and reckless – and I believe we need to put an end to it.

The new Kentucky law signed by Governor Steve Beshear in April and took effect in July. Starting January 1, Kentucky State Police and local law enforcement officers can now enforce the law by issuing citations, with the penalties being $25 on a first offense and $50 for each subsequent offense. Prior to the start of the year, officers could only give out warnings.

The law prohibits drivers of all ages from sending or reading text messages while a vehicle is in motion unless it is an emergency situation. The law also bans the use of cell phones by all drivers under age 18 and prohibits them from entering information into a GPS device while the car is in motion.

However, the law still allows drivers over age 18 to read and enter telephone numbers and names into a cell phone while they are driving. They can also still use GPS systems.

Trying to text a message while you’re flying down the road in your car is the epitome of reckless driving, but dialing a number, talking on your cell phone or looking up an address on your GPS isn’t very different, in my opinion. The bottom line is that we shouldn’t sanction any type of activity that takes drivers’ minds off the road.

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