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Distracted driving deaths: Why does Kentucky rank third in the nation?

Louisville, KY auto accident attorney

Personal finance website MoneyGeek compiled federal crash statistics from 2017-2018 to determine which states have the highest rates of distracted driving. Kentucky ranked third in the nation for distracted driving, with a fatality rate of 2.82 per billion miles traveled. Distracted driving resulted in approximately 279 deaths statewide from 2017-2018.

Distracted driving isn't a problem confined only to some states. It is a national epidemic. Nearly 3,000 people died in distracted driving crashes across the U.S., according to federal statistics. What's more unnerving, there could be thousands of drivers using their phones behind the wheel at any given moment. State-by-state prevalence of distracted driving may depend on how strict the laws are and how well they are enforced.

What are the distracted driving laws in Kentucky?

The current laws in Kentucky are rather lax in comparison to other states. They only prohibit drivers from typing, sending, or reading text messages. They don't stop drivers from holding or handling phones, or using other smartphone features. For examples, drivers can still make phone calls, use apps, and program GPS navigation.

The law prohibits drivers under the age of 18 from phone use. Violators could face:

  • A $25 fine for a first offense
  • $50 fine for a second offense
  • Three points added to driver's license
  • 180 waiting period to apply for regular license for drivers under 18

Can stricter laws make our roads safer?

Kentucky lawmakers are currently pushing legislation to ban all cellphone use while driving. State Representative James Tipton (R-Taylorsville) introduced the Phone-Down Kentucky Act (House Bill 255) in January.

If the bill becomes law, drivers will be prohibited from using cellphones while driving and while temporarily stopped in traffic. It would also prohibit watching, recording, or broadcasting videos on a handheld device. The bill does permit:

  • Use of hands-free and voice-operated technology
  • Programming GPS navigation
  • Minimal swiping or handling of mounted devices

Violators could face a $50 fine for a first offense and a $50 fine for a second offense.

This legislation could help deter phone use behind the wheel, but that doesn't mean that all drivers will comply with the law. Furthermore, distracted driving involves more than simply using phones. It involves any action that causes drivers to take their eyes off the road, hands off the wheel, and attention away from driving.

The Whaley Law Firm has been fighting for the rights of injured motorists in the Louisville area since 2004. We have seen how something as brief as checking a phone notification can change someone's life for the worse. Contact us online if you or a loved one was hurt in a crash with a distracted driver. We offer free consultations and will not ask for money unless we win your case.

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