After a tragic multi-vehicle accident caused by cellphone distractions in Missouri last year, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) wants to ban cell phone usage in cars.
Local officials agree that distracted driving of all kinds is increasingly problematic, but they're not sure how enforceable a cell phone ban would be.
Barry Weber, chief of police for Wauwatosa, said if he hasn’t noticed more accidents, he has for sure noticed worse driving.
“Bad habits and bad driving,” Weber said.
Anna Ruzinski, chief of police for Menomonee Falls, said she strongly discourages people from talking on their cellphone while driving and encourages people to pull over if you need to make a call.
And United Driving School in Brookfield holds exercises that help students understand the negative effects of being distracted by cellphones.
"We would support the ban if it was passed by the state because we have to inform students about the state laws," said instructor Olivia Hoessler. "We teach safe driving and how students can stay safe on the roadways."
Still, the message doesn't sink in with everyone.
In Waukesha County the State Patrol gave 32 citations and nine warnings to “inattentive” drivers for the entire year, according to a report compiled by the Bureau of Transportation Safety. Inattentive driving does not just include cell phone use, but is a generalization of any distractions a driver faces while on the road.
In Milwaukee County, four citations and 17 warnings were given by state troopers.
How will police enforce it?
The state's year-old no-texting law appears to have been effective. State troopers have given just two citations and no warnings from state troopers in Waukesha County. Would a cell phone ban carry the same weight?
“It would be hard to regulate," said Weber. "Who texts with a cop right next to you?"
Ruzinski agreed that the ban would be hard to regulate, though talking on a cellphone would be more apparent for police.
Debbie Hersman, NTSB spokesperson, said during a CNN press conference that she knows the law enforcement would find a way to enforce the ban such as looking for speed irregularities, lane shifts and other abnormalities.
“Then again we can’t even make people wear seat belts,” Weber said.
Maj. Sandra Huxtable of the Wisconsin State Patrol and director of the Bureau of Transportation Safety, said she doesn’t see this law making its way into Wisconsin anytime soon, but said people might see driving laws that would restrict cellphone use in school and construction zones.
Both police chiefs said they would have to agree with the proposal if the ban happened to be enforced in Wisconsin because it would be part of the law.
“Drivers should drive with safety in mind,” Huxtable said. “When you get an operating license that is a privilege.”