LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - Lexington police say they dealt with over 500 crashes during a three month period last year, all the result of distracted driving. Now officers tell WKYT they have a new plan to get people to put the phone down while behind the wheel.
Lena Muhammad spent part of Tuesday afternoon behind the wheel of a simulator at Bryan Station High School. The experience is meant to teach students the dangers of texting while driving.
"I actually hit a person. Surprisingly and I kept veering off into the median on the road, trying to type in a number," explains Muhammad. "it just makes you not want to text at all."
The digital demonstration is how teachers hope to make student drivers more aware of the dangers of distracted driving.
"Kids learn from real experiences and this is as close to a real experience without putting them in a car and having them text and drive," explains Sabina Massey from Bryan Station High School.
Lexington Police are in support of these types of lessons inside schools, outside of the classroom and on the road. Police say they also have a new way they plan on cracking down on those who text and drive.
"We have been awarded a distracted driving grant from the Kentucky Office of Highway Safety," says Grants Coordinator Alvin Cook.
The grant consists of an additional $20,000 to pay officers to seek out those who break the law.
"It's going to be different than our other grant. This grant is kind of unique," Cook explains. "We're going to have two officers per unit. That is per car. The officer in the passenger seat is going to be what we call a "spotter." He's actually going to be the one spotting for the people texting while driving or doing other unsafe acts, or making other violations while they are using the cellphone."
The new initiative gets underway September 30th and runs through December 31st.
"We hopefully will see how this works out," says Cook. "if we have a great success and we can reduce our collisions, like we're planning, then of course we will try to do something more."
A first offense for texting and driving comes with a $25 fine coupled with $143 in court costs. Drivers younger than 18 are not allowed to use a cellphone while driving.