For Immediate Release: Friday, April 13, 2012
For More Information, Contact: Jane Garrott, Executive Director, (608) 257-5741

Distracted Driving Awareness Month Requires Your Attention

MADISON, WI – Wisconsin drivers using handheld devices are four times more likely to get into crashes serious enough to injure themselves or others.*  This month attorneys from around Wisconsin are trying to draw attention to these distractions and the resulting injuries from accidents they cause.

April has been declared Distracted Driving Awareness Month.  According to Wisconsin Association for Justice (WAJ) President Ed Vopal, Wisconsin residents should remember that the State just banned drivers under age 18 with probationary licenses and instruction permits from using cell phones and other wireless handheld communication devices.

“The new law is a good step toward making our roads safer,” Vopal said.  “But everyone – not just young people – should think twice before using a cell phone while their vehicle is traveling down the road.”

The new law will go into effect later this year, and fines under the law will be $20-$40 for the first offense, then $50-$100.  Wisconsin law also prohibits texting while driving for all individuals.

“This month, trial attorneys are part of a nationwide effort to educate the public about distracted driving through the Casey Feldman Foundation,” Vopal said.  The foundation – named for a Fordham University senior who lost her life while walking on a sidewalk to a distracted driver in 2009 – has a website (www.enddd.org) where volunteers can sign up to help with public awareness.

“Hopefully, by raising awareness about the dangers of distracted driving, we can reduce the numbers of accidents that cause injury, and help save lives,” Vopal said.

Text messaging creates a crash risk 23 times worse than driving while not distracted, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration* (NHTSA).  In addition, driving while using a cell phone reduces the amount of brain activity associated with driving by 37 percent.

For more information about the dangers of distracted driving, see the Casey Feldman Foundation website or the NHTSA at www.distraction.gov

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