FRANKFORT – Senator Denise Harper Angel’s move to include provisions of texting legislation (Senate Bill 23) in a public safety bill paid off today. House Bill 415, which bans texting while driving, has passed both the Senate and House of Representatives and been sent to Governor Steve Beshear to be signed into law.
“As the session draws to an end, I wanted to salvage this piece of legislation because I knew it would save lives. In reading House Bill 415, I realized that it was a good fit,” said Senator Harper Angel, D-Louisville.
“I fought hard to see this get through the process simply because I believe it is important legislation that will not only save lives, but has the opportunity to train generations of new drivers with safer driving habits. These younger drivers will be prohibited from using cell phones during the first six months of their driving experience,” she added. “I am thrilled today that we have finally taken steps to reduce accidents related to texting.”
Senator Harper Angel has also championed legislation to ban texting while driving during previous sessions.
Senate Bill 23 bans any person operating a motor vehicle in motion on the traveled portion of the roadway from writing, sending, or reading text-based communications using a personal communication device. This includes text messages, e-mail, Internet and instant messaging.
Senator Harper Angel’s bill also prohibits drivers under the age of 18 from using a personal communication device while operating a moving motor vehicle on the roadway. The bill requires holders of an instructional permit or intermediate license to hold their permit/license for an additional 180 days if a violation occurs.
Any person who violates the law prior to January 1, 2011 will receive a courtesy warning. After January 1, 2011, a person who violates the law will be fined $25 for the first offense and $50 for each subsequent offense. All fines imposed by this bill are subject to court costs.
“In Kentucky last year, 53,000 crashes occurred due to distracted driving, 199 of which were fatal,” Senator Harper Angel said. “These numbers are alarming and, sadly, the numbers continue to grow.”
Kentucky joins 20 other states and the District of Columbia that ban texting while driving. In addition, novice drivers are banned from texting in nine states and school bus drivers are banned from text messaging in Texas.
Senator Harper Angel, who represents the 35th District, has served in the State Senate since 2005.