Governor Steve Beshear's Communications Office
Governor Beshear issues ban on text messaging by state employees driving government vehicles

Press Release Date:  Wednesday, December 16, 2009  
Contact Information:  Kerri Richardson
Jill Midkiff

‘Eyes on the Road’ effort aimed at improving safety for Kentucky drivers

FRANKFORT, Ky. – With families preparing to hit the road for the holidays, Governor Steve Beshear joined Acting Transportation Secretary Mike Hancock today to announce an innovative step toward ensuring the safety of Kentucky drivers.

In response to the growing number of drivers who text-message while driving, Gov. Beshear launched his Eyes on the Road effort – an executive order prohibiting text messaging by state employees who are driving government-owned vehicles

“More than 53,000 crashes occurred in Kentucky last year due to driver distraction and inattention,” said Gov. Beshear.  “Those wrecks caused more than 15,000 injuries and nearly 200 fatalities. The Eyes on the Road ban on text messaging while driving state vehicles will not only help save lives and reduce injuries, but will set an example for county and local governments, private employers and individual drivers.”

Text messaging, the exchange of brief, written messages by mobile device, has grown quickly over the past four years -- more than 110 billion text messages are transmitted monthly in the U.S. While text messaging has improved the flow of communication, texting while driving has proven to be a deadly problem on the road.

Studies show that approximately one in five U.S. drivers admit to texting while driving at least once in the last 30 days and, when drivers text, their collision risk is 23 times greater than when not texting.

The federal government issued a ban on texting by drivers of official vehicles earlier this year. The District of Columbia and 18 states have banned texting while driving for all drivers, and nine states prohibit text messaging by drivers 21 or younger.

“The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that driver distraction and inattention contributes to 25 percent of police-responded traffic crashes nationwide,” said Hancock. “Text messaging is the culprit in far too many of these traffic crashes. The use of multi-media and driving don’t mix. People who text and e-mail behind the wheel put every motorist on the road around them in harm’s way. I commend Governor Beshear for his leadership on this pressing public safety issue.”

For purposes of the prohibition, “texting” or “text messaging” refers to reading from or entering data into any handheld or other electronic device, including for the purpose of SMS texting, e-mailing, instant messaging, or engaging in any other form of electronic data retrieval or electronic data communication.

“With nearly 34,000 civilian employees, state government can and should demonstrate leadership in reducing the dangers of text messaging while driving,” said Gov. Beshear. “I’m committed to leading by example.”


Download a copy of the Executive Order (PDF)