Penalty Points for drivers who text in Kentucky - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

Penalty Points for drivers who text in Kentucky

LACENTER, KY (KFVS) -

Tougher penalties for texting and driving in Kentucky could end up costing you your license.

Soon, the temptation to type while behind the wheel will now cost you more points off your license than speeding in some cases.

People who say they were victims of distracted driving crashes said they're happy to hear more patrols are out specifically looking for offenders.

"He was speeding in a construction zone at a high rate of speed and also texting," said Ginger Hogancamp.

Hogancamp remembers the day she was in an accident in which the driver of the other vehicle was allegedly speeding and texting.

She says it happened on the highly traveled Highway 60 in Ballard County.

"It was scary," she said. "It really shows you how distracting it can be."

She's happy to see stricter laws in Kentucky.

Soon, new tougher enforcement mean the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet could assess "penalty points" on the operator's licenses of drivers who are cited and convicted of violating Kentucky's law against texting while driving.

A driver will incur three points for each no-texting violation.

The cabinet can suspend the licenses of drivers who end up with a specified number of points within a two-year period: 12 points for drivers age 18 and older, and seven points for drivers under age 18.

"Highway safety has been a major emphasis of our administration," Gov. Beshear said. "We have thousands of dedicated professionals – in highway engineering, law enforcement and emergency medical services – who work every day toward a goal of zero deaths on Kentucky's streets and highways.

The "No Texting While Driving" law, enacted by the 2012 General Assembly, forbids anyone to send text messages while driving a motor vehicle.

For younger drivers under age 18, the law also forbids any use of a cell phone while driving.

"We have long recognized that cell phone use is a factor in a high number of highway crashes," said Kentucky Transportation Secretary Mike Hancock, who is the Governor's designated representative for highway safety. "I am convinced that the ‘No Texting While Driving' law will save lives."

Kentucky law enforcement says they're putting more patrols on the roads specifically targeting drivers who are texting.

"We are on a road that is heavily traveled and we see accidents outside the business all the time," said Cindy Martin who owns Cindy's Flowers and Gifts in La Center. "We know people die in these accidents and we've had it happen to people we know. It's hard but it leaves a mark on you and you try to stop doing it. The temptation is there but you just have to remind yourself it could cost you your life."

One delivery driver for Cindy's Flowers and Gifts said she sees lots of drivers texting.

"I do not do it," said Tonya Seaborne. "When I see that I just think what are you doing? It's dangerous and they should not be doing it."

State police say statistics show looking away for five seconds to text takes your eyes off the road for more than 250 feet. They say that's enough time to greatly increase your chances of an accident.

One teenager who will soon get her license says she wants to set a good example.

"When I see people who text and drive it makes me nervous," said Kenna Hall age 15. "If you're looking at your phone you're not looking at the road."

Police tell me points could quickly add up for repeat offenders. The law will take effect as soon as it goes through review.

Some 53,600 crashes in Kentucky in 2012 were attributed to driver distraction, a category that includes cell phone use.

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