Just how bad is the distracted driving situation in Wisconsin? Bad. According to the Wisconsin Department of Transportation, 1 in 4 accidents in the state are due to distracted driving. This amounts to one distracted driving accident every 20 minutes.
Wisconsin is not alone. According to the Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention, 8 people are killed and 1,161 people are injured every day by distracted drivers. Distraction takes many forms. It can involve simply taking your eyes off the road, taking your hands off the wheel, using a cell phone, looking for an object in your vehicle, or even having your thoughts elsewhere.
Are drivers in Wisconsin at any greater risk? According to Distraction.gov, Wisconsin is one of a shrinking number of states who have not yet banned all handheld cell phone use.
Slow going in the Wisconsin legislature
Efforts to enact legislation to protect motorists from distracted drivers has been painfully slow. Rather than enact an all out ban on cell phone use, the state has approached the problem in piecemeal fashion. Currently, it is illegal for anyone to text and drive in Wisconsin. Anyone with a learner’s permit or other provisionary license is prohibited from using a cell phone entirely.
In late March, legislators added another law to the books. It is illegal for anyone to use a cell phone while driving in a construction zone. The penalty for a first offense ranges between $20 and $40 with subsequent offenses rising to $50-$100. Whether the law serves as a deterrent remains to be seen.
While there has been strong pressure on lawmakers to pass tougher cell phone laws, the state has balked at adding greater teeth to Wisconsin’s cell phone laws and motorists continue to face grave dangers from distracted drivers.
Anyone utilizing Wisconsin roadways this summer should take special care to be aware of their surroundings and watch out for distracted drivers. Individuals who are injured in the Green Bay area should talk to a personal injury attorney about their legal options.