FRANKFORT – Gov. Steve Beshear joined public safety and business leaders Wednesday to announce a campaign to encourage Kentuckians to pledge to abstain from texting while driving. The initiative is a partnership among the Governor’s Office, Kentucky State Police, Kentucky Transportation Cabinet, Kentuckians for Better Transportation and AT&T.
Window cling decals featuring the message “No Text on Board” will be affixed to Kentucky state vehicles across the state, including those of state law enforcement. Motorists also will see “don’t text and drive” messages on electronic sign boards along state highways, according to a news release from the governor's office.
“Our goal is to save lives,” Beshear said in a statement. “It is critical that Kentuckians learn about the dangers of texting while driving, and abstain from doing it. I have taken the pledge to never text and drive, and I encourage Kentuckians everywhere to join me. When you are driving, don’t text-- it can wait.”
Beshear also signed a proclamation stating that October 10 is “Don’t Text and Drive Day” in Kentucky. The overnor asked all state employees to join him in taking the pledge not to text and drive.
In 2009, Beshear signed an executive order prohibiting state employees from texting while driving state vehicles. A few months later, in 2010, the Kentucky General Assembly passed a law making the practice of texting while driving illegal. The law bans texting for drivers of all ages while the vehicle is in motion.
For drivers over 18, it allows the use of global positioning devices and reading, selecting or entering a telephone number or name for the purpose of making a phone call. Texting is allowed only to report illegal activity or to request medical or emergency aid.
For drivers under 18, no use of personal communication devices such as cell phones and pagers is allowed while the vehicle is in motion. The use of a GPS is allowed, but manually entering information must be completed while the vehicle is stopped. Emergency and public safety vehicles are exempt when the use of a personal communication device is essential to the operator’s official duties.
“Too many lives have been forever changed by a texting-while-driving accident, and together, we want to spread the word about how deadly a single text can be,” Kentucky State Police Commissioner Rodney Brewer said in the news release.
Wil Craig, a Louisville resident who was injured in an accident caused when the driver of the car he was riding in was texting behind the wheel, shared his personal story at the announcement. Craig now travels the country speaking to groups about the importance of waiting to text.
There are currently more than 11,000 Kentucky state vehicles and more than 4,000 state law enforcement vehicles. The window cling decals also feature the Kentucky Unbridled logo.
“Texting while driving is foolhardy at best, and lethal at worst,” AT&T Kentucky President Mary Pat Regan said. “We hope this campaign will encourage all Kentuckians to take the pledge to never text and drive and to make it a lifelong commitment.”
During the announcement, Beshear and Regan presented a Samsung Galaxy tablet to Benjamin Mills, a senior at Barbourville High School, for winning an essay contest about the dangers of texting while driving sponsored by the Kentucky State Police. Mills is the son of Judge John and Jennifer Mills of Knox County.
This month, AT&T is bringing a driving simulator to high schools in six Kentucky communities, including Lexington, Owensboro, Paris, Louisa, Manchester and Pikeville. Earlier this year, events were held in Louisville, Radcliff and Bedford.
The driving simulator experience allows a student to be seated in a stationary car that is connected to sensors enabling the driver to use the steering wheel and pedals while wearing virtual reality goggles. The driver then navigates a virtual road course while being asked to send and receive text messages in real time on a mobile device. Other individuals can observe the driver’s performance on a monitor outside the car.