A downward glance can have deadly consequences, according to safety experts.
“In 2008, there were 199 deaths because of distracted driving..inattention and cell phone use,” said Chuck Geveden of the Ky. Transportation Cabinet’s Office of Highway Safety.
Now lawmakers say action is needed. While there’s not enough votes for an outright ban on cell phones while driving, Rep. Jody Richards says that many lawmakers believe texting…especially among young people..needs to stop. House bill 43 would not allow anyone under 18 from texting, or even talking when behind the wheel.
And the bill would ban everyone from texting while driving. But police would be exempt and that drew some debate.
Representative Jim DeCesare questioned why police officers would be allowed to do something that some say is more dangerous than drinking and driving. But transportation officials say that language was inserted to allow use of an officer’s mobile data computer.
“The definition of a mobile device falls into that category. They receive their emergency calls by data computer,” said Geveden.
The bill bans texting yet pushing numbers to make a call is OK.
“We’re letting some things go by and others not. When you’re driving down the road, you're punching in a number. How is law enforcement going to know the difference?” questioned DeCesare.
And others fear the bill is too strict. Texting even while stopped in traffic would be illegal.
“If I wanted to use my text during this time, am I considered to be operating my vehicle, because you’re banning me from using my text?” asked Rep. Steven Riggs.
“You have your eyes focused down, traffic starts to flow again, you’ve held up all the traffic behind you,”answered Geveden.
The bill passed 18 to 7 in the House Transportation Committee but many expect a lot of changes before the full House votes on it.