Last updated: May 14, 2013
Cell phone, texting news: At least one piece of distracted driving legislation was under consideration in 2012: a plan to outlaw use of handheld cell phones by school bus drivers. It died in the Transportation Committee, which created the legislation. The Kansas Legislature returns Jan. 14.
Kansas has no statewide limits on cell phone use by adult drivers. The state’s ban on text messaging while driving took effect Jan. 1, 2011. No cell phone legislation advanced in the 2010, 2011 or 2012 sessions.
The Kansas City suburb of Mission is considering a ban on handheld cell phones. Enforcement would be primary, allowing police to stop and cite violators. The ban would be among the first in Kansas. The city police chief said the idea is to be “proactive.” The City Council may take up the issue in November, after the proposed ordinance clears a committee, the Kansas City Star reported. Among the concerns — the Johnson County suburb already has a reputation for running speed traps.
- Drivers with restricted licenses banned from using wireless communications devices.
- Text messaging outlawed for all drivers. Fine $60.
Distracted driving legislation (2012):
HB 2500: Would prohibit school bus drivers from using hand-held wireless telephones while on the road. Exempts communications with dispatchers. Fines: $50 (first offense) then $100. Died in committee June 1. (Transportation Committee)
Distracted driving notes (2012):
The city of Manhattan, home to Kansas State University, says it’s written more than 700 tickets for electronic distracted driving in the first eight months of 2012. Manhattan’s ban on handheld cell phone use and texting by drivers went into full effect Jan. 1, 2011. A bid to repeal the law was rejected in the summer of 2011.
In 2011, Wichita police wrote 34 tickets under the state texting & driving law. Most went to adults.
2011 distracted driving notes:
The city of Manhattan voted to retain its ban on handheld cell phones. Two commissioners wanted to bring the city into alignment with state laws, which permit cell phone use by adult drivers. The June 7, 2011, vote against the repeal was 3-2. The mayor and the county police department both opposed the plan to drop the cell phone ban. Read the city’s cell phone & texting law.
Senate Bill 300: Would ban text messaging while driving. (Originally only a vanity license plate measure.) Amended and approved by the Senate on May 10 and sent to the governor, who signed it into law on May 24. Latest action: This texting law took effect Jan. 1, 2011.
Senate Bill 351: Would outlaw texting for all drivers in Kansas. Fine $100. Approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee on Feb. 16 and then by the full Senate on Feb. 19. (Emler/Committee on Ways and Means)
House Bill 2439: Would prohibit text messaging and related activities for Kansas drivers. $100 fine. (Sponsored by the Transportation Committee)
House Bill 2441 Seeks to ban text messaging and emailing by all drivers. (Appears identical to SB 351, above) (Committee on Appropriations)
2010 legislation notes
The Senate approved SB 300 in the late hours of the legislature’s final day. The ban on sending and receiving text messages while driving was added to a bill that originally made changes to Kansas’ vanity license plate operation.
During the full Senate debate on the anti-texting bill SB 351, an opponent called the plan “popular, but dumb.” Sen. Jay Emler, R-Lindsborg, who drafted the measure, replied: “I don’t give a rat’s rear about being popular. It was drafted to save lives.” The Senate’s vote of Feb. 19 was 34-6.
No one spoke against HB 2439 in its Transportation Committee hearing on Jan. 19. The Highway Patrol and the Peace Officers Association both spoke in favor of the text messaging ban for all Kansas drivers.
HB 2143: Would ban holders of learner’s permits from using wireless communications devices while driving (part of larger bill addressing young driver safety). Signed into law by the Kansas governor in late March. Took effect Jan. 1, 2010.
HB 2132: Would prohibit the sending, writing or reading of text messages while driving.
Kansas cell phone/texting legislation notes:
HB 2143 (substitute), the teenage driving legislation, was approved by the Kansas Senate and House, and then signed by Gov. Kathleen Sebelius in late March. The cell phone ban was one of several new restrictions on young drivers in the legislation. The teen cell phone ban went into effect Jan. 1, 2010. This is the first move by Kansas to restrict cell phone use by drivers.
The Topeka Capital-Journal endorsed the proposed text messaging ban HB 2132, saying, “One aspect of the bill we particularly like is that it treats minors and adults equally, unlike some other attempts to regulate the use of cell phones while driving.” The proposed fine for unlawful texting would be $60.
In Kansas, cell phone-related accidents killed seven people and injured 161 in 2007, according to the state Department of Transportation.
A Kansas University professor reports that 72 percent of the 321 KU students surveyed said they texted while driving.
Lawrence, Kan., received national attention in 2006 for a proposed ban on use of cell phones by drivers. The plan died in committee.
Recent cell phone/texting legislation
HB 2706: Would have required that “no person while driving a motor vehicle shall be so distracted as to interfere with the safe operation of such motor vehicle. Activities include using personal communication technologies.” Last seen in committee.
HB 2705: Would have prohibited text messaging while driving. Last seen in committee.
HB 2118 would have required hands-free devices for drivers (2007). Died in committee in May 2008.