In 2020, distracted driving was the cause of at least 4,562 car crashes.
The most common distraction? Cell phones.
Cell phones have become so natural that even when we’re driving, it seems okay to text and call.
But the statistics don’t lie, and Kentucky has taken to making a law just to reduce the number of crashes caused by distractions.
So what are the Kentucky distracted driving laws?
And what penalty do you get for breaking these laws?
We’re going to tell you everything you need to know here. We’ve also added an FAQ section for all your other distracted driving-related questions.
Distracted Driving Laws in Kentucky
Before we talk about Kentucky’s laws on distracted driving, let’s first define what this means.
Distracted driving, according to the state, is any non-driving behavior that removes your focus from driving, looking at the road, or holding the steering wheel with both hands.
Now, there are four types of distractions:
- Manual – behavior that takes your hands off the steering wheel
- Visual – behavior that takes your eyes off the road
- Cognitive – behavior or situation that mentally distracts you from driving
- Auditory – a sound that can distract you from focusing on the road
That out of the way, what are the distracted driving laws in Kentucky?
Kentucky has only one distracted driving law, and it states that:
- All drivers ARE NOT allowed to text, read, and send messages when operating a vehicle
- Drivers 18 and above ARE allowed to use navigation apps, input phone numbers for calling, and select a contact while driving
- Drivers below 18 ARE NOT allowed to use their electronic mobile devices even just to make a call or use navigation apps
- If teenage drivers need to put in a cell phone number, choose a contact, or input details on a navigation app, they should stop at a designated area to do so
- Teenage drivers ARE still allowed to use a GPS or a phone for navigation purposes; they just can’t use the app to put an address or pin a location on the map while they’re driving
As you can see, Kentucky puts all its focus on cell phone use. The reason for this is that using your cell phone takes all 4 distractions — manual, visual, cognitive, and auditory — and combines them into one.
Other Forms of Distracted Driving
Sure, Kentucky’s distracted driving law only focuses on the use of mobile phones. However, you should try to avoid all types of distractions, including:
- Arguing with a person on the phone or in the car
- Fixing something on the dashboard
- Changing the radio channels
- Handling crying or fighting children
- Eating or drinking
- Taking care of your pet
- Looking for something in your bag
- Watching a screen on your dashboard or mobile device
- Listening to very loud music
- Fixing your hair or putting on makeup
- Reading a map or looking for directions on your phone
These distractions all have something to do with the 4 types of distractions.
So if you want to avoid being distracted, make sure that you always keep your eyes on the road, keep both hands on the wheel, and don’t lose focus on the task at hand.
Distracted Driving Penalties in Kentucky
The distracted driving law in Kentucky is primary enforcement. This means that you can get pulled over by a law enforcer if they see you using your phone while driving.
And if you are caught, you will be charged a fine and get points on your driving record.
- First offense – $25 fine and 3 points on your driving record
- Second and subsequent offenses – $50 fine and 3 points per incident on your driving record
- Other penalties for teenagers – delays in getting an intermediate license or full driver’s license
Remember, Kentucky only allows a maximum of 12 points every 2 years. Get more than 12 points on your driving record and your license will be suspended.
Distracted Driving Exemptions in Kentucky
There are times when you must use your phone when behind the wheel. The instances listed below are the only situations where you can use your cell phone while driving:
- When contacting medical and emergency personnel
- When contacting the police or fire department, or when reporting a crime or accident
- When reporting illegal activity
- When communications are needed to prevent further injury to any person or property
- When an operator of a public safety vehicle uses a cell phone for his duties
Frequently Asked Questions
As promised, here are some of the most common questions about Kentucky’s distracted driving laws.
Is it illegal to eat and drive in Kentucky?
It’s not illegal to eat and drive in Kentucky since there are no laws specifying that. However, just because you can doesn’t mean you should.
Eating is a form of distracted driving because you don’t have both your hands on the steering wheel.
Is it illegal to drive with headphones in Kentucky?
Kentucky is one of the states that does not ban the use of headphones while driving. As long as it does not distract you from what’s happening on the road, you can use headphones.
Just remember, the use of headphones can be considered auditory distracted driving. That said, this is not illegal in Kentucky.
Is driving barefoot a form of distracted driving?
It’s not considered a form of distracted driving, so you are allowed to drive barefoot. However, there are many benefits to wearing shoes when driving.
Can I use my phone at a stoplight in Kentucky?
No, you are not allowed to use your phone even if you are stopped at a red light. In Kentucky, you can only use your phone when you are parked in a designated area.
And that concludes your complete guide to the Kentucky distracted driving laws.
While Kentucky’s distracted driving laws only focus on texting while driving, other things will distract you from focusing on the road.
Our advice? Always be aware of these behaviors and avoid them at all costs. If you have to eat, take care of the kids, use your phone, etc., stop at a safe place first.
Always choose safety when you’re driving!