Will texting-while-driving ban refocus attention on driving?
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Raymond Hinze, center, a senior at Elkhorn Area High School, tries the driving simulator while sending a text message on his cell phone. Police school liaison officer Joe Kirkpatrick, left, arranged for the simulator demonstration as part of the Elkhorn Police Department’s efforts to draw attention to the dangers of texting while driving — especially among inexperienced teen drivers. Terry Mayer/staff.
ELKHORN — Just in case motorists aren’t aware that it’s now illegal to text while driving, some local law enforcement agencies are providing a few reminders to bring home the point.
At Elkhorn Area High School last week, police school liaison officer Joe Kirkpatrick set up a driving simulator that let students text while driving under visual situations that included a snowstorm, pedestrians darting into roadways and other driving hazards. Officers also visited the school last month to speak on the new law, put up posters in hallways there announcing the legislation and even posted news of it on their Facebook page.
“We’re trying to create an awareness of the law among all drivers, but especially the younger drivers, for a couple of reasons,” said Lt. Jon Anzalone, who heads the patrol division of the Elkhorn Police Department. “Studies show they tend to use the technology more. They aren’t as experienced in driving and they don’t have the same fears of the road that older drivers do. At the department, we’re providing an educational component of the new law to get their attention.”
The new law, which went into effect Dec. 1, made Wisconsin one of 30 states to ban texting while driving and one of 11 to enact such a law in 2010.
Fines up to $400 and a loss of four driving points could deter some motorists who are tempted to text.
Read the full story in the Dec. 26, 2010 e-edition of Walworth County Sunday, HERE.