MADISON (WKOW) -- A new law that takes effect on November 1 will prohibit many teen drivers from using their cell phone on the road.
The law applies to those with an instructional permit or probationary license. Drivers who use "a cellular or other wireless telephone except to report an emergency" will be subject to a fine of $20 or $40 for a first offense and $50 to $100 for a subsequent offense within a year.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that 11 percent of all drivers under the age of 20 involved in fatal crashes were distracted at the time of the crash. That age group has the highest proportion of distracted drivers.
"It just tears your heart out for any crash that we see, that our officers respond to, especially when we get there and find evidence that the crash absolutely could have been prevented," said State Patrol Major Sandra Huxtable of the WisDOT Bureau of Transportation.
Texting and driving is illegal in Wisconsin, but it's something Dane County Deputy Randy Wiessinger has seen before. He compares it to a level of impairment. "Probably the most common is that they weave within their lane or slightly out of their lane," Wiessinger said.
October 14-20 has been declared Teen Driver Safety Week in Wisconsin. According to the Wisconsin Department of Transportation, 53 teenagers were killed and nearly 63,000 were injured in traffic crashes last year. State officials hope to prevent deaths and injuries behind the wheel by encouraging better decision making and safety conscious behavior.
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