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Distracted drivers are everywhere despite 2010 law

Published On: Jun 27 2013 10:22:50 PM CDT
Texting and driving

Ferre Dollar/CNN

MADISON, Wis. -

It's National Drive Safe Month. Wisconsin passed the Texting While Driving law in late 2010, but distracted drivers are still everywhere. Most people are guilty of texting, eating or surfing the web while behind the wheel. The problem is trying to enforce the law.

Even with all the statistics available, 11 percent of all drivers under 20 in fatal accidents were driving distracted. Since the law passed, Dane County only issued two texting while driving citations because it's difficult for law enforcement to catch drivers texting and driving.

"The problem with the texting and driving law is you have to be composing and sending electronic email or message,” said Deputy Randy Wiessinger, Traffic Team, Dane County Sheriff’s Office. "We haven't issued a lot of citations, but we'll frequently stop people for inattentive driving, if they're occupied by the phone, whatever they're doing, whether they're composing an electronic message, or just reading something on the Internet, that's inattentive driving."

A ticket in Dane County can set you back right at $175 dollars and three points on your license.

Even though 41 states and DC all ban texting and driving, according to Distraction.gov, at any given time more than 600,000 U.S. drivers are driving while distracted.

"If you're frequently looking down at your phone, a lot of things can happen in a fraction of a second and you're not going to have time to react to it," said Wiessinger.

CESA #2 teaches Dane County students how to drive, and they're focusing a great deal on informing students the importance of keeping all their attention on the road.

"We talk a lot about how much is going on,” said Adam Vaughan, CESA driving instructor. “I think when they first start driving, they see that it's easy to talk about it and they see that they can't. They even ask, they always put their phone away."

CESA #2 Driver Education Program Director, Kurt Schultz understands cellphone distraction is an ever-growing problem. They're working to revamp their curriculum while involving law enforcement to tailor their message to new drivers.

"We're relating it to all the different aspects of distracted driving, not just the texting,” said Schultz.

“And then what they're leaning in class, tie those two together and they can relate to it with distracted driving in the future."

It's important to remember it's not just teen and 20-something drivers distracted behind the wheel.

"Adults are just as guilty of distracted driving,” said Schultz. “One of the big excuses people use for being in a traffic accident is, ‘Oh, I didn't see them.’ Well, to me, if you didn't see them you weren't looking and why weren't you looking?

Distracted driving killed more than 3,300 people in 2011; http://www.Distraction.gov also says that's up from 3,200 in 2010.

CESA #2 is planning to implement the new curriculum in Dane County this fall and hopes to take it state-wide.

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