Traffic Safety Laws in Kentucky

Seat Belts

Per KRS 189.125, the driver and all passengers in a moving vehicle must wear seat belts. Exceptions include:

  • USPS letter carriers on duty.
  • Drivers or passengers with disabilities that make it unsafe or impossible to wear a seat belt, in which case a letter from the person's physician must be present.
  • Children who are properly restrained in child safety seats (see below).

Child Car Seat

KRS 189.125 and the Kentucky Drivers Manual make it clear that drivers must secure all children who are 40 inches in height and below in approved child safety seats. This is known as Kentucky's Child Restraint Law.

Violating the law can result in a $50 fine and an extra $10 donation―out of your pocket―to the Traumatic Brain Injury Trust Fund.

Make sure to read our article on How To Buy a Child Safety Seat.

If you need assistance on how to install a car seat, visit the Kentucky State Police's Child Safety Seat Inspection website.


Motorcycle Riders

According to the Kentucky motorcycle manual, all motorcycle riders who possess a motorcycle instruction permit, have had an operator’s license for less than 1 year, and operators under 21 years old, must wear a helmet. You can find more specifics about this law, as well as the requirement for all motorcycle riders to wear protective eye gear, in KRS 189.285.

ATV Riders

KRS 189.515 makes it clear that ATV riders must wear approved protective headgear, i.e. helmets, unless they're:

  • Riding on private property.
  • Using the ATV for farming, agricultural, mining, or logging purposes.
  • Using the ATV for any other industrial, commercial, or business purpose.

Electronic Devices and Texting in KY

All drivers under 18 years old are banned from electronic device usage. A GPS may be used but only when the vehicle is at a complete stop.

Texting is illegal for all drivers of all ages.


Kentucky's laws regarding headlamps are covered in KRS 189.030. In short, when you're driving in Kentucky, your headlamps must be on a 30 minutes after sunset and a 30 minutes before sunrise.

You must also use your headlamps whenever the visibility conditions are less than optimal. Think rain, sleet, snow, and fog.

Reporting Unsafe/Drunk Drivers

If you suspect someone is driving under the influence, call 911 and report it.

If you feel someone is driving in an unsafe manner due to age or medical conditions, you should contact the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet or law enforcement with details about the situation and for instructions on what to do next.

To get more information, check out our special sections, Kentucky DUI and Kentucky Drivers with Disabilities.

Leaving Children/Pets Unattended

Brush up on the Kentucky Drivers Manual if you're in a hurry and considering leaving a child unattended in your vehicle. It's illegal to leave a child under 8 years old unattended.

For the same reasons you should never leave a child unattended in a motor vehicle (extreme weather conditions, bodily harm, life endangerment, kidnapping), you should never leave your pet unattended. Even if your pet is in a carrier and can't jump around on the gearshift, extreme heat puts your pet's life at risk.

Finding Kentucky's Safety Laws

You can find most of Kentucky's safety laws by searching Title XVI: Motor Vehicles of the Kentucky Revised Statutes (KRS). Other sources include:

  • The Kentucky Drivers Manual. Note that Section Four of the manual acts as a motorcycle manual and provides motorcycle-related safety laws.
  • Kentucky's Commercial Driver License Manual, which provides safe driving laws in various situations, such as when dealing with tanks and hazardous materials.
  • Our Kentucky Teen Drivers section. Here you'll find laws, rules, and regulations specific to teen drivers.
  • Our Kentucky DUI section, which covers rules and consequences related to driving under the influence.

And remember, when in doubt, you can always contact the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet or law enforcement such as the Kentucky State Police.

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