Wisconsin became the 25th state to ban texting while driving when Gov. Jim Doyle signed a bill covering all drivers in his state. Now half of the states ban texting while driving in some form.
The new Wisconsin law outlaws texting by all drivers. First-time violators face fines of $20 to $400, along with four points on their driving records. Second-time violators face fines of $200 to $800. The law is primary, which means police can stop motorists suspected of this offense alone. It becomes effective Dec. 1.
Earlier this week, Kentucky enacted legislation that would make texting while driving a secondary offense if the driver were pulled over for another offense.
Research compiled by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration attributed an estimated 6,000 deaths and half-a-million injuries to distracted driving in 2008 alone. Recently, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood launched pilot programs in New York and Connecticut as part of a “Phone in One Hand. Ticket in the Other.” campaign to study whether increased enforcement and public awareness can reduce distracted driving behavior.
For more information on distracted driving and the U.S. Department of Transportation’s work, visit www.distraction.gov.