Tougher punishment coming against those caught texting and drivi - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Tougher punishment coming against those caught texting and driving

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- If you're caught texting and driving, it could soon cost you your driver's license. Gov. Steve Beshear announced the crackdown today.

Right now, the penalty for texting and driving is just a fine, $25 for the first offense and $50 after that.

But soon, answering that text message may also cost you points on your driver's license.

"We're here today to save lives," said Gov. Beshear as he made the announcement during the Transportation Cabinet's Kentucky Lifesavers Conference highlighting traffic safety.

The new regulations are designed to reduce the number of accidents caused by drivers with cell phones in their hands; some 12,000 in Kentucky in less than 2 years.

"And 54 people died. That's unacceptable, and it's preventable," said Beshear.

To prove his point, Beshear took the wheel of a driving simulator, while texting First Lady Jane Beshear.

"That's tough. That demonstrates conclusively why you shouldn't text and drive, I can tell you that," said Beshear as he finished the demonstration.

Once the regulations go into effect, texting and driving will cost you 3 penalty points on your driver's license. Multiple violations could cost you your license.

Beshear said he chose not to wait for the General Assembly to act next year.

"This is such a dangerous situation that we don't need to wait another half-year to do any legislation on this. We found that we could do it by administrative regulation and that's exactly what we're going to do," said Beshear.

Shawn Coltharp approves. Her daughter wrecked her car while texting 6 years ago, and suffered permanent brain damage. She hopes this will be a deterrent.

"We really need it to be just a out of step as drunk driving," said Coltharp.

But even Gov. Beshear admits the problem of texting and driving will not be solved by increasing the penalty. It's a very difficult law to enforce.

"But we need to draw as much attention to this issue as we can," said Beshear.

"I think what it will do is convey the message to the public of how serious this is and the real risks that are involved in distracted driving," said Capt. David Hodgson of the Paducah Police Dept.

The regulations will go into effect in a couple of months.

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