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Bill allowing only hands-free use of cellphones introduced

However, there are exceptions made for single-swipe actions like navigation programs or answering phone calls.

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                                                                          (SHUTTERSTOCK PHOTO)

FRANKFORT, Ky. (KT) – Legislation to combat distracted driving on Kentucky roads by limiting how drivers use a cellphone or other communication devices while behind the wheel has been introduced for the 2022 General Assembly.

The measure, House Bill 258, is sponsored by Rep. James Tipton, R-Taylorsville, only allows hands-free use of a personal device while driving, making it illegal for drivers to use or hold their device in their hands. 

However, there are exceptions made for single-swipe actions like navigation programs or answering phone calls.

The new law would apply to paging devices; text-messaging devices; stand-alone computers; tablets; laptops; notebook computers; personal digital assistants; global positioning system receivers; telephone; devices capable of displaying a video, movie, broadcast television image, or visual images; Any substantially similar wireless device that is used to initiate or receive communication, information, or data; and cellular telephones.

“Too many individuals get seriously hurt because someone takes their eyes off the road,” said Tipton.  “It may seem small, just sending a text or checking social media, but the consequences are real and potentially fatal.”

The measure also bans drivers under the age of 18 from using any type of personal device, even if it’s hands free.

Several industry leaders and community advocates praise the proposed law and its impact on roadway safety in the state.

“Technology can be a very useful tool for drivers, but when it takes a driver’s eyes off the road, it can be deadly. Requiring the hands-free use of a cell phone or other devices while driving is the best way to protect Kentuckians from distracted drivers,” said Mark Treesh, Executive Director of the Insurance Institute of Kentucky.  “Many surrounding states have already taken this step or are considering it, and Kentucky should be next. We support the passage of HB 258.”

“Over the past decade or so we have seen an increase in motorcycles involved in rear-end collisions,” said Jay Huber, from the Kentucky Motorcycle Association. “While sitting at a red light or other traffic slow-down, vehicles are running into the rear of motorcycles at an increasing rate. While it is not the only cause, the use of phones and other distracting devices in a vehicle is a major contributor to this disturbing trend. For this reason, we support HB 258.”

The bill has not yet been assigned to a committee.

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