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What is Distracted Driving?

Distracted driving is driving while engaging in other activities that distract the driver’s attention from the road. Experts have identified three types of distracted driving: manual, visual, and cognitive.

  1. Manual: Distractions are caused by using your hands for anything other than steering the vehicle. This includes adjusting the radio, running through a playlist on your phone or looking for your sunglasses.
  2. Visual: Distractions that take your eyes off the road. Common types of visual distractions include texting, reading billboards or looking at off-road activity or scenery.
  3. Cognitive: Distractions that take your mind off driving which include, talking on the phone, lack of sleep, or consuming alcohol, illegal drugs or prescription medications against medical advice.

Distracted Driving Statistics

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration distracted driving claimed 2,841 lives in 2018. Among those killed: 1,730 drivers, 605 passengers, 400 pedestrians, and 77 bicyclists. According to the Wisconsin Department of Transportation, the typical distraction requires the driver to take their attention off driving for less than five seconds, and if they are going 55 miles per hour, this means the driver has traveled the length of a football field without paying attention. In Wisconsin in 2015, there were 24,089 vehicle crashes related to distracted driving, which means there is a distracted driving crash that happened somewhere in Wisconsin every 22 minutes.

Common Types of Distracted Driving

There are many things that can result in distraction, and it is your job as a driver to avoid things that can cause your attention to waver. Common causes of distracted driving which should be avoided include things such as:

  • Eating or drinking
  • Adjusting the music
  • Rowdy passengers or multiple passengers
  • Pets as passengers
  • Trying to read a map or GPS device
  • Calling, texting, or checking emails

When a person drives while distracted, it is dangerous not only for them but also for the other drivers nearby. Distraction can result in lane deviation, running a stop sign or red light, or veering off the roadway which can cause a collision with another vehicle. Additionally, inattentive drivers may not notice cyclists and pedestrians sharing the roadway, which can put them at risk of devastating injuries.

Any one of these forms of distracted driving is enough to cause an accident. Unfortunately, most of these can be avoided if a driver is always careful to observe what they’re doing while behind the wheel of a vehicle.

Distracted Driving Laws in Wisconsin

Although laws vary from state to state, these are the distracted driving laws in Wisconsin. It is illegal to use a hand-held mobile device while driving for any driver with a probationary license or instruction permit (except to report an emergency). It is illegal to use a hand-held, mobile device when driving through a road work zone, and texting while driving is against the law for ALL drivers in Wisconsin.

There is also a law in Wisconsin under Wisconsin Statute 346.89 that states no one may perform any activity “that interferes or reasonably appears to interfere” with the ability to drive. This law is vague, but it does give the courts a lot of room for interpretation.

If you have been in an accident and discover that the other driver was involved in some distracted driving conduct, it can help prove an auto accident was not your fault. Initially, law enforcement is responsible for investigating an injury crash to determine if the at-fault driver was distracted. This includes searching the car for evidence of distraction or pulling cell phone records.

Whenever possible, the victim (or passenger) should take photos of the car accident scene. These pictures may show evidence of what was distracting the other driver and other valuable information about the injury accident.

Should I hire a distracted driving attorney?

Consider contacting a personal injury attorney immediately after your accident. A knowledgeable personal injury attorney can request that video be preserved from traffic control cameras, police dash-cam, and police body cameras. Typically, the request must be made within 2-4 days of the accident, or the video will be taped over. On-scene videos can show evidence of distracted driving that can greatly assist in proving your injury claim.

If a driver’s cell phone records aren’t investigated at the time of a crash, a personal injury attorney can subpoena the records.

A personal injury attorney can also hire an investigator to conduct a more thorough examination of the crash. For example, the investigator can locate the other party’s vehicle and photograph the interior. Key types of evidence, such as spilled food or used reading material on the front seat, can shed light on what was going on before the crash. These experienced investigators know what to look for and may find items overlooked by victims or law enforcement.

Getting the right help soon after a crash puts you in the best possible position for fair and full compensation. Connect with us today to discuss the details of your case:

Wisconsin Personal Injury Attorney Joseph M. Troy

Joe Troy is a Shareholder with the Firm. Joe had a long and distinguished career as a Wisconsin Circuit Court Judge and Chief Judge, before returning to private practice with Habush Habush & Rottier in 2007. Joe’s practice is dedicated exclusively to helping people who suffered personal injuries in accidents caused by other people’s carelessness and negligence. He has successfully recovered multi-million-dollar results for his clients in jury trials and settlements, but he has also helped hundreds of people with much smaller claims.

In 2018 he was named Personal Injury Attorney of the Year by Best Lawyers®. In 2004 he was named Wisconsin Trial Judge of the Year by the American Board of Trial Advocates. Joe is Wisconsin’s first attorney to receive these distinctions as both a judge and attorney. Joe uses his unique experience as both a judge and attorney to help people who have suffered injuries which disrupt their lives, jeopardize their financial well-being, and impacts the lives of their loved ones.