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Bill Aims to Stop Phone Calls in Work, School Zones

Making phone calls while driving through state highway work zones when workers are present or in school zones when lights are flashing would be prohibited under a bill that cleared the House Transportation Committee yesterday.

House Bill 33, sponsored by Rep. Terry Mills, D-Lebanon, also would increase fines for anyone violating the state’s no-texting-while texting law from $25 to $50 for a first offense and from $50 to $100 for each subsequent offense.

“We are here with this bill for one reason. And that is that distracted driving kills,” Rep. Mills said.

The bill calls for 50 percent of all fines collected from violators to go to the Kentucky Injury Prevention and Research Center at the University of Kentucky for injury prevention research. 

Drivers who use hands-free devices like Bluetooth would be exempt from the legislation under an amendment approved by the committee. The amendment was submitted by Rep. Addia Wuchner, R-Florence. 

“Many of these devices now are so sophisticated that your phone rings and it says, ‘Do you want to answer?’ and you say ‘yes’ and it answers, or it’s within your car system so that you’re not dialing, picking up your phone, or even looking at your phone,” Wuchner said.

The new prohibitions included in HB 33 would not apply to drivers of safety or emergency vehicles.

It is illegal for anyone to text while driving in Kentucky, and for those under 18 to use a cell phone while driving in Kentucky. Those age 18 and over, drivers of safety and emergency vehicles, and those calling for help or reporting illegal activity are currently allowed to make calls while driving anywhere in the Commonwealth.

HB 33 now goes to the House chamber for further action.

From the Legislative Research Commission