April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month: 'Put the stuff down'

April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month. The Wisconsin Department of Transportation says distracted driving is a growing problem – as the number of crashes continue to increase. 

"It’s all about reaction time," said Robert Simpson, State Trooper of 28 years. 

State Trooper Robert Simpson says it takes a matter of seconds…

"By the time you turn back around that vehicle has stopped in front of you, and you only have two things you can do, slam on your brakes and pray you don’t rear-end the car in front of you or swerve," said Simpson. 

According to the Wisconsin Department of Transportation (DOT), in 2021 more than 10,000 crashes involved distracted driving. That's up 31 percent from 2020.

The DOT reports 40 people were killed last year in distracted driving crashes. Trooper Simpson says drivers need to understand the consequences. 

"It's cause and effect. If you come out here, and you crash and cause a fatality you’re going to go to prison," said Simpson.

The DOT says reading or sending a text takes your eyes off the road for five seconds. If you're traveling at 55 miles an hour – DOT says that's like driving the length of a football field with your eyes closed.

Texting while driving is against the law in Wisconsin. If caught, drivers can be ticketed for inattentive driving, have to pay a fine, and receive demerit points on their license. 

"It’s a learning curve," said Simpson.

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After 28 years on the force, Trooper Simpson says the message is always the same. 

"Put the stuff down. Just hands on the steering wheel and drive where you need to be," said Simpson.

The Wisconsin Department of Transportation encourages drivers to take the "Buckle Up Phone Down" pledge.