There are at least 2,000 incidents of distracted driving per year that lead to accidents. And in that number, 26% is due to cellphone usage.
It’s not a surprise then that the State of Kansas wants to discourage the use of mobile phones while driving.
In effect, we now have a texting and driving law.
But what is and isn’t allowed when you’re driving?
Is the law limited to mobile phone usage?
We’re going to answer all these questions in this complete guide to Kansas texting and driving laws. We’ll also look at the penalties, other forms of distracted driving, how to avoid distracted driving, and much more.
Ready? Let’s go.
Texting and Driving Laws in Kansas
The Kansas texting and driving law states that:
- Texting, reading, and sending messages using a handheld electronic device is prohibited
- The use of handheld electronic devices is prohibited for everyone below 18 years old
NOTE: Handheld electronic devices include mobile phones, tablets, iPads, and laptops.
If you’re 18 and above, only texting, reading, and sending messages are prohibited, but keying in a phone number to call a person is not.
This means that other than texting, all other mobile phone uses are allowed. But of course, it is still highly recommended to not use your electronic devices at all while you’re driving. This is to ensure safety for everyone.
It’s better to pull over in a safe place if you really need to use your device.
However, for those that are younger than 18 years old, you cannot use an electronic device for anything. Yes, this includes calling, taking pictures, scrolling through social media, etc.
Texting and Driving Exemptions in Kansas
Texting while driving is allowed in Kansas if:
- You use a hands-free device that will prevent you from holding the mobile device (not applicable for those below 18 years old)
- You are part of emergency services and you are acting within your duties
- You are part of law enforcement and you are acting within your duties
- You are contacting someone for a call
- You have just received an emergency, weather, or traffic message
- You are reporting illegal activity, a crime, or an emergency
Texting and Driving Penalties in Kansas
Kansas places its texting and driving law under primary enforcement. This means that if a police officer sees you texting while driving, you will be asked to pull over.
Compared to secondary enforcement, primary enforcement doesn’t require a police officer to have another reason to pull you over apart from texting while behind the wheel.
So what happens if you’re caught texting and driving?
For each time you violate this law, you will be fined $60. This excludes additional court fees.
You won’t be given any jail time, but you might be handed reckless driving if your distracted driving behavior has led to an accident.
And when you are charged with reckless driving, you may have to face jail time and a license suspension for a few months.
Other Forms of Distracted Driving
Even though the texting and driving law in Kansas only focuses on mobile phones, it’s important to keep other distractions away.
To give you an idea of what to avoid while driving, here are the 3 forms of distractions:
- Manual distractions – anything that makes you remove your hands from the steering wheel. This includes eating, grooming, getting things from your bag, etc.
- Visual distractions – anything that makes you look away from the road ahead. This includes fiddling with something on the dashboard, looking at your phone, navigating your GPS, etc.
- Cognitive distractions – anything that makes you lose focus on driving. This includes arguing, listening to loud music, having rowdy children, etc.
While these behaviors are not illegal in Kansas, it’s important to avoid them at all costs. Remember, always keep your hands on the steering wheel, your eyes on the road, and your focus on the task at hand.
How to Avoid Distracted Driving
Distracted driving can be avoided. Here are a few tips on how you can avoid it:
- If you need to use your mobile phone or you foresee needing to use it, mount it in a hands-free device so you don’t have to hold it.
- Activate Bluetooth so you can give commands to your phone while driving.
- If you need to eat, stop on the side of the road and munch on a snack.
- Before leaving the parking lot or your home, properly secure your kids in child safety seats and pets in their carriers.
- Give your children toys they can play with so they don’t throw tantrums in the car.
- If you’re in a heated argument with someone, park the car and discuss it.
- Study the place that you will pass to get to your destination. Familiarize yourself with the roads so that you reduce looking at a map while driving.
Frequently Asked Questions
Got more questions about Kansas texting and driving law? Here are some FAQs that can help you.
Is eating and drinking while driving illegal in Kansas?
No, it’s not. You can eat/drink while driving. However, this is a form of distracted driving that is highly discouraged.
Can you go to jail for texting and driving in Kansas?
While texting and driving do not lead to jail time, you may be charged with reckless driving if your distracted driving leads to the death or injury of another person.
If you’re charged with reckless driving, you may be charged jail time, license suspension, and higher fines.
Can you use earphones while driving in Kansas?
Yes, you can, but putting the volume too high could distract you from the road.
If you plan to use earphones or headphones, we recommend putting the volume low so that you can still hear your surroundings.
Is there a hands-free law in Kansas?
While Kansas doesn’t have a hands-free law, it does ban texting and reading messages while driving.
The state does not ban talking on the phone while driving if you’re 18 years old and above.
And that was everything you needed to know about the Kansas texting and driving law.
There are many ways to be distracted while driving. But, there are ways to avoid them, too.
So if you’re planning on driving anytime soon, it’s best to take precautions and be ready for your trip so that you reduce texting while driving and other distractions.
Always remember that it’s better to be safe than sorry.