‘We need everyone to join us’: Wisconsin launches Buckle Up Phone Down safety campaign to reduce crashes

Seat belt could have saved 9-year-old in crash, officials say

MADISON, Wis. — Wisconsin’s transportation department launched a new safety campaign Friday to cut down on crashes statewide.

The Wisconsin Department of Transportation’s Buckle Up Phone Down campaign calls for all drivers to do two things when they get behind the wheel: use a seat belt and stay off your phone.

“The safety of everyone in Wisconsin is our top priority,” Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes said. “Distracted driving and not wearing your seat belt can be deadly. But these devastating incidents can be prevented. Everyone can do two simple things that may save their lives: Buckle Up Phone Down.”

According to the WisDOT, cell phones are one of the biggest distractions while driving. In 2020, distracted driving was a factor in nearly 9,000 crashes. Thirty-one people died in those crashes.

WisDOT officials said 11% of drivers didn’t buckle up in 2020. That same year, unbuckled drivers and passengers made up 44% of all traffic fatalities on Wisconsin roads.

“We need everyone to join us,” WisDOT Secretary Craig Thompson said. “The collective effort of each individual and organization will bring change and create safer roads in Wisconsin. Every person who takes the pledge demonstrates their commitment to the health and well-being of their communities and all the people of our state.”

After starting its Buckle Up Phone Down initiative in 2017, Missouri saw seat belt use increase by 6.3% after individuals and businesses took on the challenge. Six other states have launched the initiative since 2017.

Wisconsinites can sign the Buckle Up Phone Down pledge online at wisconsindot.gov/BUPD.