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Is It Against the Law to Drive Distracted?

distracted driver, driver on phone, driver holding coffee while on phone

What Is Distracted Driving?

At the least, distracted driving is a threat to other people’s safety. At most, however, distracted driving can lead to fatal car wrecks. The distracted driving statistics below exemplify this:

  • 3,142 lives were lost in crashes involving distracted drivers in 2019
  • 9% of fatal crashes involved distracted drivers in 2019
  • Between 2012, and 2019, an estimated 26,000 people died in crashes involving distracted drivers

Believe it or not, texting while driving is not the only form of distracted driving. While you’ve probably seen tons of campaigns focused on texting and driving, we’re here to discuss other actions that could be considered distracted driving as well as the possible penalties you could face as a result.

Wisconsin defines distracted driving as “inattentive driving,” which occurs when a person driving a motor vehicle is engaged or occupied with an activity, other than driving the vehicle, that interferes or appears to interfere with the person’s ability to drive safely. So yes, texting and driving is a type of inattentive driving, but that’s not all.

The state laws specifically prohibit texting while driving under most circumstances as well as inattentive driving altogether, so doing things like eating while driving, driving with your dog on your lap, or grooming yourself while driving can result in a ticket.

Traffic tickets typically result in the following penalties:

  • Fines
  • Suspended driving privileges
  • Attorney’s fees
  • Court costs
  • Insurance rate increases

Is Aggressive Driving Considered Distracted Driving?

We all know about it, many of us have experienced it, and even more of us have felt it ourselves. Road rage is a highly common yet dangerous behavior that drivers often demonstrate on the roads. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that about one-third of all crashes and about two-thirds of the resulting deaths are caused, in part, by aggressive driving. Triggering factors such as traffic, slow drivers, fatigue, tight schedules, and other circumstances tend to fuel drivers’ road rage. As a result, road rage can cause aggressive driving.

The Wisconsin Department of Transportation (DOT) defines aggressive driving as operating a vehicle in a way that endangers or is likely to endanger people or property. It speculates that most behaviors associated with aggressive driving are illegal, such as:

  • Speeding
  • Improper turns
  • Improper passes
  • Running red lights
  • Running stop signs

Safe Driving Tips

Distracted driving can present itself in many ways. While texting and driving is a common type of distracted driving, it’s not the only type. With this in mind, consider the tips below to help you avoid distracted driving, and worse, a car accident:

  • Use your cellphone for emergencies only
  • Do not drive drowsy, and if you must, pull off the road
  • Limit the number of passengers in your car
  • Don’t blast music in your car
  • Avoid eating while driving
  • Avoid multitasking in the car
  • Secure your children and pets safely before driving
  • Store away loose items

As you now know, aggressive driving and distracted driving go hand-in-hand. To help prevent distracted driving, AAA offers the following tips:

  • Maintain an adequate following distance
  • Use turn signals
  • Allow others to merge
  • Don’t offend
  • Use your high beams responsibly
  • Tap your horn if you must (but no long blasts with accompanying hand gestures)
  • Be considerate in parking lots by parking in one spot, not across multiple spaces, and be careful not to hit cars next to you with your door
  • Remain calm and courteous behind the wheel to lower your risk of an unpleasant encounter
  • Be tolerant and forgiving
  • Do not respond to other aggressive drivers

Fight Your Ticket with Our Team by Your Side

Getting a traffic ticket can happen to the best of us, even when we exercise caution on the roads. Sometimes our emotions cloud our judgment and we make mistakes, and other times, we get caught up in the wrong place at the wrong time.

If you got a traffic ticket in Milwaukee, get in touch with us online or at (414) 882-8382 to learn how we can help!