TAYLORSVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) — A bill that would prohibit Kentucky drivers from holding a cellphone while behind the wheel could be brought to a vote in 2020.
Kentucky would be one of several states, including Georgia and Tennessee, to adopt a "hands-free" driving law if lawmakers pass House Bill 255.
"In other states that have done this, we've already seen a reduction in a percent of accidents and fatalities," said state Rep. James Tipton, R-53.
Tipton and other lawmakers, including state Rep. Steve Sheldon, R-17, introduced House Bill 255 in January. The proposed legislation is waiting to be read in front of a committee.
Sheldon understands the initial reaction to the bill could be negative, he said, but argues it could be life-saving legislation if passed.
"I can see how (the law) would annoy some people," Sheldon said, "but it will save lives."
Though the bill has been discussed before, both Sheldon and Tipton said now is the time to make a push.
"It's becoming more and more of an issue on our roads, causing safety concerns and increased accidents," Tipton said.
Texting and driving was prohibited in Kentucky in 2010, but legislators admit many drivers have found ways to get around the ban, which has been difficult to enforce. The ratified legislation also included no restraints on talking on the phone while behind the wheel.
The sometimes-deadly consequences of using a phone while driving were put on display when a semi-truck driver hit and killed another driver in September 2019 in Franklin County, Kentucky. An investigation determined that the driver of the semi, Jerry Elder Jr., was watching videos on his phone and didn't see the other vehicle. Elder was indicted for murder and two counts of assault in connection with the crash.
It's because of so many similar accidents, Tipton said, that Kentucky lawmakers need to pass House Bill 255.
"Driving is not a right; it's a privilege," he said. "With that privilege comes responsibilities."
House Bill 255 could be read in committee by the end of February.
- Kentucky proposals would ban use of cellphones while driving
- Kentucky lawmakers working on tougher penalties for distracted driving
- Semi driver charged with murder after deadly crash in Franklin County, Kentucky
- One man dead, semi driver charged after 3-vehicle crash in Franklin County
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