Need to be hands free in Wisconsin Rapids - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

Need to be hands free in Wisconsin Rapids


WISCONSIN RAPIDS (WAOW) --  A new law says drivers in Wisconsin Rapids must now use a hands free device if they want to use their cell phones behind the wheel. 

Even though City Council passed that law, it was three high school sophomores who had a vision for safer roads that made it happen.

Hannah Kiiskila, Lizzie Tapia and Nick Munce don't even have a driver's license.  But, they certainly know the value of being safe behind the wheel.

"So many deaths happening across the entire U.S. we wanted to make a small difference in our community," Kiiskila said.

After the death of their friend killed by a distracted driver, they realized they needed to take action.

"Just seeing the impact of one person being distracted and the effect it had touched me," Kiiskila said.

The trio started with a trip to their guidance counselor, asking for support.  But, the process didn't stop there.

"We went to the mayor and then to the city council. Then we waited for meetings and stuff to be over," Kiiskila explained.

But they ran into some opposition.  Not all council members liked the idea. But, in the end, council passed it 5-3.

The new law took effect on Saturday.  Now, drivers in the city must use a hands free device if they want to use  their cell phones behind the wheel.

"It's not just a text, not just a phone is a decision whether to drive safely or probably kill someone," Kiiskila said.

Wisconsin Rapids Police Chief Kurt Heuer thinks the new law is a good one. He says it is more about educating people than writing tickets.

"It's about limiting distractions when driving. Drivers need to have 100% attention to the road," Heuer explained.

But even with the new safety measure police know not everyone will follow it right away.

"We are going to do this in transition. We know we need to educate the drivers of the city and the guests about the new cell phone ordinance," Heuer said.


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