State employees are now banned from sending SMS text, e-mail or other instant messages while driving government-owned vehicles.
Gov. Steve Beshear said distracted drivers caused 53,000 crashes in Kentucky last year, resulting in 15,000 injuries and 200 fatalities.
“With nearly 34,000 civilian employees, state government can and should demonstrate leadership in reducing the dangers of text messaging while driving,” Beshear said. “I’m committed to leading by example.”
President Barack Obama enacted a similar ban for 4.5 million federal employees earlier this year. State employees in Pennsylvania and Maryland are also banned from texting while driving.
Lee Jackson, president of the Kentucky Association of State Employees, said he supports the ban.
“Of course, the primary concern is with the safety of employees as well as the general public,” he said.
Studies show that approximately one in five U.S. drivers admit to texting while driving at least once in the last 30 days, according to a news release. When drivers text, their collision risk is 23 times greater than when not texting, according to a release.
For purposes of the prohibition, “texting” refers to reading from or entering data into any handheld or other electronic device or engaging in any other form of electronic data retrieval or electronic data communication.