Wisconsin Law Hands Free in Workzones Starting

According to WI DOT, starting October 1, 2016 it is illegal to talk on a handheld phone while driving in a Wisconsin work zone.  See law below.

While its nice to see new laws attempting to protect vulnerable users of the road including highway works, Wisconsin is way behind the times with this law.  California has been hands free for at least five years and bans any phone use by drivers under 18.

When reading the law below it seems as though it will be near impossible to enforce.  It allows appears to allow a driver to activate or deactive a feature on the phone with his or her hands.  

A better law would be that any person seen holding a phone behind the wheel of a car is subject to a $1,000 fine.  Any citizen who provides evidence of a driver holding a phone behind the wheel (photo taken of a driver by a passenger in another car) gets a $500 reward for making our roads safer (out of the $1,000 fine).  This would make drivers afraid to touch their phones behind the wheel because they could be caught at any time and it would cost them $1,000.  It would make us all safer.

An Act to amend 346.95 (1); and to create 346.89 (4m) of the statutes; relating to: the use of a cellular or other wireless telephone while driving a motor vehicle in a construction zone and providing a penalty.
The people of the state of Wisconsin, represented in senate and assembly, do enact as follows:
Section 1. 346.89 (4m) of the statutes is created to read:
346.89 (4m) No person may drive, as defined in s. 343.305 (1) (b), any motor vehicle while using a cellular or other wireless telephone, including using the telephone for a purpose other than communication, where persons engaged in work in a highway maintenance or construction area or in a utility work area are at risk from traffic, except to report an emergency. This subsection does not apply to the use of a voice-operated or hands-free device if the driver of the motor vehicle does not use his or her hands to operate the device, except to activate or deactivate a feature or function of the device.
Section 2. 346.95 (1) of the statutes is amended to read:
346.95 (1) Any person violating s. 346.87, 346.88, 346.89 (4), (4m), or (5), 346.90 to 346.92, or 346.94 (1), (9), (10), (11), (12), or (15) may be required to forfeit not less than $20 nor more than $40 for the first offense and not less than $50 nor more than $100 for the 2nd or subsequent conviction within a year.
Section 3. Effective date.
(1) This act takes effect on the first day of the 7th month beginning after publication.

Thank You to Fitchburg Mayor Steve Arnold for Commenting On Woman Telling People Not to Stop For Pedestrians and Bicyclists at Crosswalk in Fitchburg

In the August 2016 Fitchburg Star (article produced below), Mayor Steve Arnold wrote an opinion informing people that Wisconsin law requires drivers to yield to pedestrians and bicyclists in crosswalks.  Apparently a woman named Judy Hoffman wrote a letter to Wisconsin State Journal telling people, "Please don't stop in the absence of the flashing lights," at the crossing of Badger State Trail and PD in Fitchburg.

Hoffman's comments show all that is wrong with drivers in Wisconsin.  She urges people to do the exact opposite of what they should do-stop their cars and trucks so that people who are walking and bicyclists may use the roadway to cross.  This is the sole purpose of a crosswalk.  If people were only to stop for walkers and bicyclists when yellow lights flash, there would be no need for crosswalks.

I am not sure why someone would encourage people to not stop for pedestrians and bicyclists.  I have not been able to find a copy of Hoffman's article.  I can only imagine that she is concerned that so many drivers these days are distracted when they drive and if a person stops for a pedestrian or bicyclist the person who stops in his or her truck might get rear ended.  Instead of fear of rear-ender from distracted driver, people should follow the law-don't drive distracted, and do stop anytime you see a pedestrian or bicyclist anywhere near a crosswalk.  

Wisconsin law requires drivers to yield to pedestrians and bicyclists in crosswalks.  The crosswalk at Badger State Multi Use Path and PD is considered uncontrolled.  Here is the law that applies:

346.24  Crossing at uncontrolled intersection or crosswalk.

(1) At an intersection or crosswalk where traffic is not controlled by traffic control signals or by a traffic officer, the operator of a vehicle shall yield the right-of-way to a pedestrian, or to a person riding a bicycle or electric personal assistive mobility device in a manner which is consistent with the safe use of the crosswalk by pedestrians, who is crossing the highway within a marked or unmarked crosswalk.

Bike Movie at Capital Brewery Beer Garden August 18, 2016 8:00 p.m.