Driving While Distracted: Too Many Wisconsinites Do It
NEW AUBURN, Wis. – There is an inattentive driving wreck somewhere in Wisconsin every 20 minutes, says Joel Brodd, an attorney who practices in New Auburn.
Over the past few years, Brodd has given talks to thousands of high school students, trying to educate them about the dangers of distracted driving.
But he says it's not just a young person's problem – adults actually have a higher risk of dying in a distracted driving crash.
"You cognitively are distracted when you're concentrating on a text or you're listening on the phone,” he points out. “You are visually distracted when you are reading a text. And you are manually distracted because you have your hands off the wheel, at least one of them, or you're looking away from the wheel."
Brodd says distracted driving jeopardizes the driver, the passengers and everyone nearby.
A recent AT and T survey showed 61 percent of drivers admit they text while driving.
The number of convictions for texting while driving in Wisconsin is steadily increasing, which prompts Brodd to say everyone needs to be educated as to the risk.
According to Brodd, when a driver is talking on a cell phone while driving, that person has a four-fold increase in the chance of being in a wreck.
"Talking on a cell phone is about the same risk as driving drunk, in terms of a distraction,” he maintains. “If you're texting and driving, the risk is twice as much as driving drunk, and most people don't recognize that, and I think that's why it's a very significant problem."
Wisconsin Transportation Department statistics show that nearly twice as many adults die in distracted driving accidents than teenagers.
Last year, Illinois banned handheld cell phone usage while driving.
There are range of solutions to the problem, including simply turning off the cell phone and high-tech devices that prevent it.
But Brodd says the answer is not legal or technological, it's education.
"You can hurt yourself or you can hurt others, and why would you want to do that?” he states. “Why would you voluntarily want to drive drunk? Why would you voluntarily want to text, and increase the risk of hurting yourself or hurting others?"