In April, a statewide campaign to crack down on texting while driving will put to work methods that Kentucky Highway Safety Director Bill Bell says produced 350 distracted driving citations in four test counties over just three months. That is more than the whole state issued in the law’s first year, 2011. These practices involve one driver and one spotter in an unmarked vehicle, watching for drivers using mobile devices.
Despite these practices’ success, Kentucky may not be able to afford it, for now, beyond one month.
According to Bell, “We don’t receive any grants for distracted driving or texting while driving enforcement, so we’ve had to ask one of our federal partners to help us out with the enforcement side.”
Most Highway Safety funding comes from administrations under the Federal Department of Transportation funding campaigns like Click-it or Ticket and Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over, or, in this case, Texting While Driving Campaigns. If no funding is available, Kentucky is on its own.
Take also into account that two officers in a vehicle is more expensive than one and fines for distracted driving are not as steep as for violations like DUI in a time when crashes and fatalities from distracted driving have eclipsed drunk driving. A distracted driving first offense in Kentucky runs $25 plus court costs and additional offenses are $50 plus court costs.
To further curve texting while driving, Kentucky has even partnered with the Mobile Life “Text Limit,” mobile app that disables phones traveling above certain speeds, offering the code NOTEXTKY to try the app free for the first year.
The statewide enforcement campaign begins April 1st and, according to Bell, will last until funding runs out.