There is a lot for us to be proud of about the Commonwealth of Kentucky. But the state’s rate of distracted driving is nothing to brag about. A 2021 study ranked Kentucky as the fifth-worst state for distracted driving.
This study is based on data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Association (NHTSA) and tech company Zendrive. It examined the number of fatal car accidents caused by distracted drivers in each state and ranked them accordingly. It ranked Kentucky 45th, ahead of only Washington State, Montana, Alabama and New Mexico.
Compared with neighboring states, Tennessee ranked 8th, Indiana came in 5th, West Virginia was 31st, and Ohio was 29th. States with low rates of distracted driving deaths are spread across the country, as are the ones where such fatalities are unfortunately common.
Many Kentucky drivers are being injured or losing their life from an entirely preventable cause. We all can do better at keeping our phones away and our eyes on the road.
Differing anti-distracted driving laws
One factor could be distracted driving bans. Each state has laws restricting cellphone use and other distractions while driving. Some, like Kentucky, are pretty permissive. Drivers here can hold and use their phones while driving, except for texting. Teen drivers and school bus operators cannot use their phones while driving. Other states, like Tennessee, ban all handheld phone use and make it a primary offense. Law enforcement can pull over a driver for being distracted by their phone in states with these restrictions.
Stronger anti-distracted driving laws in Kentucky would probably save lives. But as long as people are willing to disregard public safety and talk or text on their phones while driving, there will be significant, yet completely preventable, car crashes.