Distracted driving in Kentucky includes any type of visual, manual or cognitive distraction that diverts a driver’s eyes, hands, and mind away from the task of operating a vehicle.

While all types of driving distractions are dangerous, the act of reading, writing and responding to text messages from behind the wheel of a vehicle is the most harmful, as this type of activity combines all three types of preoccupying behaviors. However, other dangerous distractions may include grooming, eating or drinking while driving a vehicle.

According to national distracted driving facts, nine percent of all traffic-related fatalities during the 2016 year were caused by inattentive drivers. Distracted motorists claimed the lives of 3,450 individuals in 2016, and 562 of them were pedestrians, bicyclists or other nonoccupants. Moreover, 486 (or 14 percent) of these distraction-related crashes were due to cell phone use. For more facts about distracted driving in Kentucky, review the information below.

What is distracted driving in Kentucky?

While current distracted driving laws in Kentucky pertain to text-based cell phone use, potential distractions include any type of activity that impairs a driver’s visual, manual and cognitive abilities. For instance, possible distractions may include grooming, reading, writing or eating from behind the wheel of a moving vehicle.

Other driver distractions may include talking to passengers, engaging in a phone call, using electronic devices or reaching for a fallen object. Additionally, driving with children or pets can be distracting to the driver. Therefore, it is important to plan for the car ride by securing pets in portable cages and preoccupying children or babies with toys, books and games.

Moreover, distracted driving accidents in KY are all too common, as distraction-related collisions often involve pedestrians, bicyclists and other vehicles on the road. Of the 165,273 public and private road crashes that occurred in 2016:

  • Human inattention contributed to 54,840 traffic collisions (or 36.81 percent of all crashes in the state). Of these crashes, 155 were fatal.
  • Distractions contributed to 7,668 collisions (or 5.15 percent of all accidents in Kentucky). Of these collisions, 18 were fatal.
  • Cellphone use contributed to 1,146 crashes in the state (or .77 percent of all traffic-related collisions). Of these crashes, eight were fatal.

Distracted Driving Laws in Kentucky for Handheld Devices

Under the Kentucky distracted driving law, drivers may talk on the phone, use GPS systems, and select or enter telephone numbers into their handheld wireless devices while behind the wheel of a motor vehicle. The act of talking on the phone while driving a vehicle is permitted in the state.

Texting and Driving Laws in Kentucky

The act of texting and driving in Kentucky is illegal amongst all motorists in the state. Drivers cannot read, write or send text messages when operating a moving motor vehicle.

Kentucky Laws on Distracted Driving for Novice Drivers

In addition to the state’s no texting and driving law, novice drivers who are younger than 18 years of age are prohibited from engaging in any type of cell phone use. For instance, the act of talking on the phone while driving in KY is prohibited amongst all novice drivers in the state.

Novice motorists cannot start or end phone calls, and they may not dial telephone numbers while a vehicle is in motion. However, novice drivers may use navigation systems as long as they preprogram the device while the vehicle is parked.

Kentucky Distracted Driving Regulations for CDL Holders

While KY texting while driving regulations ban all drivers from reading, writing and sending text messages from behind the wheel of a motor vehicle, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) also bans commercial driver’s license (CDL) holders from using any type of handheld wireless device while a commercial vehicle is in motion.

CDL holders may only talk on the phone while driving a commercial vehicle if they use a hands-free component or they engage in a phone call while the device is on speakerphone.

Moreover, special laws on distracted driving in Kentucky pertain to school bus drivers. Under Statute KRS 281A.205 of the Kentucky Legislature, school bus operators are prohibited from using any type of cellular telephone while transporting one or more students to or from school.

However, school bus drivers may use a cellphone in an emergency as an exception. Additionally, they may use a cellphone if they need to communicate with the school or transportation department and the bus does not contain a built-in two-way radio.

Distracted Driving Penalties in Kentucky

Common distracted driving consequences in KY include a $25 fine after the first violation and a $50 fine after each subsequent offense. However, these fees do not include additional court costs. In addition to the penalty fees listed above, violators will acquire three points on their driving records. These violation points remain on Kentucky driving records for five years at a time.

As part of these Kentucky texting and driving laws, novice motorists must remain conviction-free for 180 consecutive days before they may progress to the next stage in the Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) program. If they break these laws, then they will need to remain conviction-free for an additional 180 days before they may progress to the next stage in the GDL program.

Furthermore, CDL holders who break the state’s texting while driving laws may need to pay a penalty fee of up to $2,750 and repeat offenders may lose their driving privileges. CDL holders will need to find out how to reinstate suspended drivers license before being able to drive professionally.

Ways to Prevent Distracted Driving in Kentucky

To prevent texting and driving accidents in KY, it is important to reduce distractive behaviors as often as possible. To reduce potential distractions, drivers may:

  • Pull their vehicles over whenever they need to make or accept a phone call.
  • Use a hands-free communication device whenever they need to talk on the phone.
  • Refrain from engaging in any distractive activities such as eating, grooming or smoking from behind the wheel of a vehicle.
  • Turn their cell phones on silent or “do not disturb” mode before they get into their vehicles.
  • Download a phone-silencing app such as AT&T Drivemode.
  • Refuse to drive if they feel tired, fatigued, aggressive or overly anxious.
Last updated on Wednesday, October 14 2020.