Texting while driving may soon become illegal in Wisconsin. On January 19, 2010, the State Assembly passed a bill that would prohibit people from driving while sending text or e-mail messages unless they are operating authorized emergency vehicles. Penalties could be up to $400 for first offenses, and up to $800 for second or subsequent offenses. The push for this bill came after recent studies reported drivers are eight times more likely to have an accident while texting, making texting while driving as dangerous as driving while intoxicated.
Driving while texting already has been legally banned in 18 states, and more are expected to pass similar laws to keep roads safer. Governor Jim Doyle has stated he would sign a Wisconsin ban passed by Legislature.
According to a recent study by Virginia Tech, 80 percent of all crashes and 65 percent of near crashes involve some type of distraction. While texting is among the most deadly distractions to driving, other diversions are also dangerous.
• Drivers process 50 percent less visual information while talking on the phone, quadrupling the chance of crashing.
• Reaching for something in the car increases your chance of a crash by nine times.
• Looking away for two seconds doubles your risk of a collision.
So turn off your phone, pre-program your GPS, and snack before you get into your car. By eliminating these and other distractions, you’ll greatly improve your chance of arriving safely at your destination.