Is It Illegal to Talk on a Hands-Free Phone While Driving in KY?
Distracted driving is one of the top causes of fatal car accidents in the United States. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, distracted drivers were responsible for taking 3,522 lives in 2021 alone. Most states have passed laws to help prevent distracted driving collisions caused by cell phones. In Kentucky, however, talking on a hands-free device is currently legal.
Kentucky’s Cell Phone Laws
Kentucky’s cell phone laws prohibit the use of all personal communication devices while operating a vehicle that is in motion. This includes using a cell phone to talk or send a text message. However, it does not include hands-free calls. In addition, these laws only apply to motor vehicle drivers who are under the age of 18 and who are driving on an instruction permit, intermediate license or operator’s license.
The operation of a hands-free electronic device is not prohibited in Kentucky. Hands-free calls, both for emergencies and non-emergencies, are permitted while driving. If the device is not hands-free, a driver under the age of 18 who does not have a standard driver’s license cannot use the device. There is an exception for a GPS or navigation system, as long as the driver does not manually interact with the system while driving.
Texting, making a call, emailing and other manual cell phone use while a vehicle is in motion is prohibited except in emergencies. The penalty for violating Kentucky’s cell phone law is a first-time fine of $25. This is doubled to $50 for a second or subsequent violation. In addition, illegal cell phone use while driving can delay a driver’s ability to obtain an intermediate license and result in demerit points being added to the driver’s record.
New Cell Phone Laws May Be Coming to Kentucky
Kentucky’s cell phone laws are constantly changing. In 2022, House Bill 258 was introduced by Representative James Tipton. If this bill passes into law, it will prohibit the use of a personal communication device or standalone electronic device while driving or temporarily stopped in traffic for all drivers, regardless of age. The new bill would still permit drivers to operate hands-free or voice-operated technology.
The new bill would also make it illegal to watch, record or broadcast videos on these devices while driving. Covered devices include cell phones, tablets, laptops and personal digital assistants. Violations of the new law would result in a fine between $50 and $100 for a first or second offense, increased to $199 for a third or subsequent offense (or if the infraction results in an accident).
The Dangers of Distracted Driving
Cell phone laws are put in place to prevent distracted driving. Operating a motor vehicle in a way that protects the safety of others requires 100 percent of a driver’s attention. A driver should never take his or her hands off of the wheel, eyes off of the road or mind off of the driving task while driving.
Cell phone use is the most common type of driver distraction involved in serious and deadly car accidents. Looking at a cell phone for even a few seconds can be enough to miss changing roadway situations and cause a car accident. If you get into an accident with a driver who was breaking Kentucky’s cell phone laws, contact our Louisville personal injury attorneys for a free case consultation. You may be eligible for financial compensation.