MADISON, WI - Wisconsin has joined 24 other states in banning text messaging by all drivers. 

The bill (AB 496), signed into law by Gov. Jim Doyle on May 5, becomes effective Dec. 1.

First-time violators face fines of $20 to $400, along with four points on their driving records. Second-time violators face fines of $200 to $800. The law is primary, meaning police officers can stop motorists suspected of this offense alone.

Research compiled by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration attributed an estimated 6,000 deaths and half-a-million injuries to distracted driving in 2008 alone.

In related news, the state of Oklahoma has joined 17 others states in banning cell phone use by bus drivers. That law goes into effect Nov. 1.