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Students in La Crosse learn about new distracted driver law

A documentary released by AT&T demonstrating the dangers of texting and driving is making the rounds in American high schools. The film, titled "The Last Text," was shown recently to Logan High School students in La Crosse. The movie is intended to foster safe driving habits by alerting students to the possible ramifications of becoming distracted while operating a motor vehicle.

Over 100,000 injuries occur yearly due to automobile crashes resulting from texting distractions. In the video, one such fatal car accident is discussed. The driver expresses sorrow at having caused the death of a biker because the driver was distracted by sending a text.

In addition to the video, students were offered time on a distracted driving simulator where they could experience set driving scenarios that could prove dangerous while texting. A representative of the Wisconsin State Patrol stated that inexperienced drivers were especially susceptible to distracted driving, since new drivers generally have to focus more acutely on the safe operation of the vehicle.

Wisconsin laws already prohibit texting while driving, but continued concerns over distracted drivers have led to the adoption of new laws that come into effect Nov. 1. These laws will make it illegal for drivers with only a provisional license or learner's permit from using a hands-free device or talking on the telephone while driving.

If an accident does occur while the driver is distracted, then he or she could be subject to criminal charges or may face a wrongful death claim if it the distracted driving caused a fatality.

It may take some effort to prove that a driver was distracted, however, unless the vehicle operator is breaking either the texting or the soon-to-be-effective law. Anyone seeking to hold a distracted driver accountable in civil court will need the help of an attorney with experience in personal injury or wrongful death claims.

Source: WXOW, "Logan students learn dangers of texting while driving," Steffani Nolte, Sept. 19, 2012

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