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Wisconsin Declares Using Handheld Devices in Construction Zones Illegal

cell_phone_photo.jpg64% of all road accidents in the United States have a cell phone involved. In an effort to reduce distracted driving and enhance highway safety, Wisconsin is taking a stand on cellphone use while driving.

Starting Oct. 1, 2016, it will be illegal to talk on a handheld mobile device while driving in a Wisconsin road work zone.

The law is part of an ongoing effort to reduce distracted driving and increase safety for motorists and workers throughout the state. Drivers caught in violation face fines of up to $40 on first offense and $100 for subsequent offenses. Following the law is simple, just remember: Orange cones – Put down the phones!

Why is Wisconsin doing this?

Mobile devices continue to be a leading cause of distracted driving throughout the United States. Given that Wisconsin sees an average of nearly 2,000 work zone crashes annually, the new law is a proactive step toward increasing safety and helping to ensure that drivers are giving as much of their attention as possible to the road. Wisconsin is one of 14 states with a full or partial ban on hand-held mobile devices while driving, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

What about hands-free devices?

Hands-free and Bluetooth devices are granted exemptions and remain legal to use. However, some studies are beginning to show that even hands-free devices can take a driver’s attention off the road.

Please take this into consideration and always drive safely.

What about emergencies?

The law grants an exception for drivers to use a hand-held mobile device if dialing 911.

What about texting?

Wisconsin continues to have zero tolerance for texting while driving. Wisconsin law forbids driving any motor vehicle while composing or sending an electronic text message or an electronic mail message.

Driving Deserves Undivided Attention

Hand-held mobile device use is one of the most common factors in distracted driving.

  • Mobile device use is a factor in one in four crashes nationwide.
  • In 2014, there were 22,194 car crashes related to distracted driving in Wisconsin – that’s one crash every 20 minutes.
  • In 2015, there were 24,089 inattentive driving crashes, resulting in 10,640 injuries and 103 fatalities.
  • At any given daylight moment in America, an estimated 660,000 drivers are using cell phones or manipulating electronic devices while driving, a number that has held steady since 2010.

Avoid the Risk. Stay Safe!

  • Turn your phone off or switch to silent mode whenever you get behind the wheel. It can wait.
  • If you are making a long drive, consider recording a voice mail message saying how long you’ll be unavailable.
  • If you must use a phone while driving, stop in a safe area such as a wayside or gas station.
  • Ask passengers to lend a hand by making phone calls for you.
  • Passengers – speak up and ask distracted drivers to stay alert.
  • Parents – Talk to your kids about the dangers of distracted driving.

FMCSA & WI State Patrol Update 2016 Brookfield, WI - 8:00 am CST