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Understanding the dangers of distracted driving

You can see them as you drive around Wisconsin and anywhere and everywhere you go in the U.S. They are distracted drivers who are typically looking at their phones and putting other motorists at risk of involvement in violent motor vehicle crashes that can result in devastating injuries and fatalities.

Early this year, car insurance comparison site Zebra polled Americans to understand our behind-the-wheel behaviors.

Slightly more than half of respondents report that they eat while driving, which makes this the most common form of distracted driving.

Other distracted driving behaviors

  • 6 percent: sending or receiving texts
  • 7 percent: take photos
  • 5 percent: apply make-up
  • 4 percent: admit to drinking alcohol while driving

The site also noted that 36.4 percent of respondents “completely agree” that using a phone diminishes your ability to drive. Yet 36 percent admit to using a phone while they drive.

Bans on phone use

A recent news article on distracted driving pointed out that almost all states have versions of bans on texting while driving and that 21 states have enacted laws that ban all handheld phone activities, including making calls, texting and app use.

The article’s author questions whether states that have only bans on texting are doing enough to stop distracted driving.

Wisconsin’s distracted driving laws

Wisconsin is tough on texting – a violation can result in a $400 fine and four points on your license. We also ban any use of handheld devices while driving, but that only applies to people with a probationary driver’s license or an instruction permit.

Safety advocates insist that lives would be spared and injuries prevented with rules prohibiting drivers from handling a phone at any time while their vehicle’s engine is on.

Of course, each driver decides for himself or herself whether to engage in dangerous driving behavior, regardless of what the law says. It’s up to us to take safety seriously for ourselves, our loved ones and others who share the streets, roads and highways of Wisconsin.

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