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Green Bay, WI distracted driver liability attorneyDistracted driving poses a great threat to users of American roadways, especially with the prevalent use of cell phones and other mobile devices. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported that in 2018, distracted driving was involved in almost 3,000 fatalities throughout the United States, but due to the challenge of identifying distracted driving, the actual number could be significantly higher. In an effort to decrease the number of car accidents, injuries, and fatalities, Wisconsin has enacted a number of state laws aimed at deterring dangerous distracted driving behavior.

Wisconsin Distracted Driving Laws

The State of Wisconsin recognizes that distracted driving is not limited to cell phone use, but rather includes any behavior that can interfere with attentive driving, such as reading, eating, personal grooming, or interacting with a passenger. Specifically, Wisconsin law prohibits:

  • Any driver from engaging in an activity that detracts from the safe operation of a vehicle. This broad statement accounts for a variety of behaviors that a police officer may detect.
  • Any driver from typing or sending by hand a text message or e-mail, with few exceptions.
  • Any driver with a probationary license or learner’s permit from using a mobile phone in any way, except to report an emergency.
  • Any driver of a commercial motor vehicle from operating a mobile phone by hand.
  • Any driver from using a mobile phone in any way, except to report an emergency, in a construction or work zone.
  • Any driver from viewing video communication or entertainment on a mobile phone or another electronic device.

As recently as the fall of 2019, Wisconsin lawmakers have introduced legislation that would prohibit handheld mobile phone use for all drivers except for in an emergency, though no such law has yet been passed. It is also important to note that any form of distracted driving can be considered negligence because it endangers other drivers, and if a distracted driver causes an accident resulting in injuries or fatalities, the affected parties can pursue a personal injury claim against the negligent driver in civil court. In cases involving death, the distracted driver may also face charges of homicide by negligent use of a vehicle.

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