17:00 PM

Distracted Driving: It's Not Just Talking and Texting on Your Phone

Driving while "intexicated" is against the law

VIDEO FOR REPORTERS – Crash B-Roll / Victim Testimony Sound Bites

MADISON, Wis., (September 30, 2020) — October is National Distracted Driving Awareness Month and nationwide, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that nearly 3,000 people are killed in crashes involving a distracted driver, contributing to the 36,560 lives lost to crashes on U.S. roadways in 2018.

"Anything that diverts attention from driving – eating and drinking, adjusting the navigation, or picking your next podcast can result in a fatal injury," said Nick Jarmusz, Director of Public Affairs for AAA – The Auto Club Group. "Looking away from the road for just two seconds doubles the risk of a crash."

In 2018, there were 2,839 people killed in motor vehicle crashes involving distracted driver, and of those killed in crashes involving a distracted driver, over 17 percent (495) were between the ages of 25-35. Additionally, there were 400 pedestrians and 76 cyclists killed in distraction- related crashes.

"In regards to hands-free capabilities, motorists need to understand it is not risk-free," continued Jarmusz. "Even with your eyes on the road and your hands on the wheel, you are not safe unless your mind focuses on the drive."

Here are AAA's Top Tips to Avoid Distractions While Driving:

  • Prepare for your drive. Set vehicle systems like GPS, seats, mirrors, climate controls and sound systems before hitting the road. Decide on your route and check traffic conditions ahead of time. And please, finish dressing and personal grooming at home – before you get on the road.
  • Don't Drive Intoxicated. Don't Drive Intexticated. The consequences of alcohol-impaired driving and texting while driving could be the same: Put aside electronic distractions and never use text messaging, email, video games or internet functions, including those built into the vehicle, while driving. Stow your smartphone away, turn it to airplane mode, or activate call/text blocking features.
  • Stay focused. Do not let anything divert your attention. Be sure to actively scan the road, use your mirrors, and watch out for pedestrians and cyclists. If you have passengers, enlist their help as a "designated texter." Ask them to answer your calls, respond to texts and program the navigation.

Wisconsin Distracted Driving Law

Wisconsin's "Inattentive driving" law prohibits driving a motor vehicle while engaged or occupied with an activity, other than driving the vehicle, that interferes or reasonably appears to interfere with the person's ability to drive the vehicle safely. Other state laws specifically forbid driving " composing or sending an electronic text message or an electronic mail message" andtalking on a hand held cell phone while driving in a construction zone. And cell phone use of any kind – even hands free – is prohibited for teens drivers, except to report an emergency.

All of these are primary enforcement laws, which means law enforcement officers may stop motorists suspected of these offenses.

Sobering statistics

  • Looking away from the road for just two seconds doubles the risk of a crash.
  • Five seconds of reading an email or text is like driving across a football field while blindfolded.
  • Mental distractions last longer than you think and can cause a dangerous crash or fatality. Mental distraction can last up to 27 seconds after dialing, texting or changing the radio station.
  • New teen drivers are 3x as likely as adults to be involved in a deadly crash. Florida has a graduated driver licensing system to help 15-year-olds gradually learn the rules of the road under less risky conditions.

For more information, visit AAA.com/dontdrivedistracted.

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