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Wisconsin Cell Phone Laws for 2020: What Do Motorists Need to Know?

Posted on in Car Accidents

Green Bay Personal Injury Attorney for Distracted DrivingDistractions on the road can come in many forms. Drivers may lose focus on the road when they adjust the radio, reach for an item on the floor, check the GPS, apply makeup, or even stare out the window at something on the side of the road. Cell phone usage is one type of distraction that can lead to serious consequences. Together, all of these distractions have contributed to thousands of accidents and deaths. In 2017 alone, 3,166 individuals lost their lives due to a distracted driver, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Despite updates to state laws regarding using cell phones while driving, accidents continue to happen at an alarming rate. If you have been injured in a car accident caused by a distracted driver, you will want to speak with a knowledgeable personal injury attorney to determine your next steps.

What Is the Law Regarding Cell Phone Usage?

In an effort to reduce cell phone-related distractions, Wisconsin lawmakers have taken great strides to strengthen the laws regarding cell phone usage. Per Wisconsin statute 346.89(3)(b)4, drivers may legally use a cell phone to communicate in a hands-free format, as long as the driver does not need to hold the phone. Drivers are permitted to text only with the assistance of a voice-activated function that does not require manual operation of the device. In Wisconsin, it is illegal for a motorist to:

  • Type or read text messages and emails
  • Use any application (other than maps) while driving
  • Hold a phone while using the speakerphone function
  • Make or answer calls by pressing multiple buttons

These laws apply to the operator of the vehicle as long as the car is in drive, which means texting at a stoplight is also prohibited. Furthermore, it is illegal for anyone with a probationary license to use a cell phone, even with hands-free options.

Distracted Driving Continues

Despite the laws regarding cell phone usage, American drivers continue to drive while using these devices. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, an estimated 80% of drivers admit to using their cell phone illegally. This data highlights the reality that negligent drivers continue to be a threat on the road. Distracted motorists risk their own lives as well as the lives of other drivers. Distractions can reduce the reaction time of a driver, which can lead to deadly consequences.

Holding Distracted Drivers Accountable for Their Actions

Answering a call, texting (even just a quick “On my way!”), or reaching to the floor to pick up a ringing phone may seem like an innocent action. However, cell phone-related accidents can be just as deadly as accidents caused by a drunk or drowsy driver. Car accidents can lead to serious injuries as well as wrongful deaths. Under Wisconsin law, victims of an accident caused by a distracted, negligent driver have the right to file a personal injury claim to recover damages.

Contact a Green Bay Personal Injury Attorney

When drivers do not follow cell phone laws, they risk the safety of everyone that is on the road. If you or a family member have been injured by a distracted motorist, you may be forced to deal with physical and financial hardships. At Herrling Clark Law Firm, Ltd., our team of experienced Appleton, WI car accident lawyers can help you gather the evidence needed to seek compensation. To schedule a free consultation, contact our office today at 920-739-7366.

Sources:

https://wisconsindot.gov/Documents/dmv/shared/cell.pdf

https://docs.legis.wisconsin.gov/statutes/statutes/346/XIII/89?view=section

https://www.nhtsa.gov/risky-driving/distracted-driving

http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2016/08/29/491854557/traffic-deaths-climb-by-largest-increase-in-decades

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