Nowadays, it seems like a new app or smartphone is being released every day that enables us to communicate more easily with family, friends and other loved ones. Unfortunately, we find ourselves now …
Nowadays, it seems like a new app or smartphone is being released every day that enables us to communicate more easily with family, friends and other loved ones. Unfortunately, we find ourselves now trying to multitask while using our phone, including while we drive. This tendency to multitask can make even the most mundane, everyday tasks much more dangerous. In fact, according to data collected by the Wisconsin Department of Transportation, in 2020, 29 people died in traffic crashes that involved distracted driving — a 12 percent increase from 2019.
You may be wondering why using your cell phone while driving is so dangerous if it involves moving your eyes off the road for only a mere few seconds. If someone takes their eyes off the road for five seconds while traveling at a speed of 70 mph, they will travel 500 feet. To put that into perspective, that is 1.5 football fields! According to recently polling, roughly 81 percent of people have admitted to texting behind the wheel and 64 percent have admitted to taking and looking at pictures while driving which means that, collectively, drivers are traveling the distance of many, many football fields while not paying attention to their surroundings.
In 2010, Wisconsin banned any form of texting while operating a vehicle. Since then, Wisconsin has continued to move forward with expanding laws to make the roads a safer place for everyone. For example, no driver may use a handheld mobile device while driving through a work zone. Also, cell phone use is prohibited for those who are operating a vehicle under a probationary license or an instruction permit.
To continue this trend, this session I once again coauthored legislation that would ban the use of cell phones except while using a hands-free device or reporting an emergency. This legislation is important as beyond texting, we are seeing people now use their phone to check their email, see the weather, and even video chat with their friends. Currently 24 other states ban using phones while driving. I am hopeful this session we can get this bill to the governor’s desk.
By taking steps to update our laws and providing continual education on the dangers of texting while driving, we will make our roads safer. I know it can be tempting to check that text or see that picture that just landed on your device, but please, “Drive now, and text later.” A person's life is worth waiting until you are safely out of your vehicle to check your phone.