Bill to further curb texting while driving and phone use near schools and road crews moves to House

02/25/2014 09:28 AM

Fines for texting while driving would double and drivers going through school or road construction zones wouldn’t be able to dial phones or stay on phone calls unless they have hands-free devices on a bill that passed a House panel Tuesday.

House Bill 33 cleared the House Transportation Committee 17-3 with some changes but little vocal opposition. Republican Reps. Jim Stewart of Knox County, Sal Santoro of Florence and Toby Herald of Lee County voted no.

“Distracted driving kills,” Rep. Terry Mills, D-Lebanon and the bill’s sponsor, said as he presented it.

The measure would restrict cell-phone use in school zones when the lights are flashing and in construction zones when workers are present. Only people who already are on phone calls using hands-free devices can remain on a call without being subject to a ticket.

Rep. Addia Wuchner, R-Florence, proposed the amendment to clarify that being on a call using any hands-free device would be permitted.

The measure also doubles the fines for texting while driving to $50 for a first offense and to $100 for subsequent offenses.

Bill Bell, director of the office for highway safety in the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet, said a marketing campaign is already in the works with a slogan spoofing “The Twighlight Zone” to alert drivers they are entering a “no-phone zone.”

Gov. Steve Beshear announced his support of the measure in his State of the Commonwealth Address last month.

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