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Wisconsin lawmakers introduce hands-free legislation

Wisconsin (WQOW) – You may need to send a few more people to voicemail soon – because lawmakers have introduced the state’s own hands-free driving legislation.

Twenty states, including Minnesota, have already passed the laws that make it illegal to talk, text or hold a phone at all when you’re behind the wheel.

Currently, Wisconsin has some bans including texting while driving, and being on your phone when in a work zone.

However, legislators said it’s time to put down the phone entirely and make the roads a safer place for everyone.
Democrat Jodi Emerson (D-Eau Claire) is a co-author of the bipartisan bill.

“Distracted driving is one of our big problems on the roads right now,” Emerson said. “In 2016, which is the last year we had figures for it, there were about 120 deaths from distracted driving across Wisconsin, which is 120 too many.”

Republican Warren Petryk (R-Eleva) is also a co-author of the bill. He said that while we’re all guilty of checking our phone for a few seconds while driving, it’s not worth the risk of harming yourself, or others on the road.

“Texting can wait. No human life in my estimation is worth checking a text or fumbling with your phone,” Petryk said. “So, I think this is a step in the right direction to make people more aware. If we do that, if we educate people, I think we’ve done a good thing.”

Exceptions to the rule would be using a cell phone to report an emergency or using a hands-free device like Bluetooth.

Emerson said the fine would be low, between $20-$40 because the intent is more about bringing awareness than punishment. Petryk said both the Assembly and Senate will hold a hearing on the bill in the near future.

McKenna Alexander

McKenna Alexander is the weekend anchor and a multimedia journalist for News 18. She started in June 2019. She was born in San Francisco, but spent the majority of her life growing up in Dallas.

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