A new law will make it illegal for drivers to talk on a cell phone in work zones.
The Wisconsin Department of Transportation says the law will increase safety for both workers and drivers.
“You’re using your phone in a work zone and it’s in your hand and you’re not on a hands-free device, we’re going to take enforcement action,” says Sgt. John Jones of the Wisconsin State Patrol.
Starting on October 1st, drivers caught talking on their phones in a work zone will face a $40 fine for a first offense and $100 for any violations after.
“Imagine they’re driving down a road, going through a work zone where you’ve got barrels, you’ve got workers out on the highway, you’ve got a lot of different things, narrowed down traffic lanes, that’s much more dangerous and we’re certainly going to give them something to remind them of,” says Sgt. Jones.
The Wisconsin DOT says distracted driving caused more than 24,000 crashes in the state in 2015.
“Every 20 minutes there’s a crash in Wisconsin due to distracted driving,” says Melissa Kok of the Wisconsin DOT.
Kok says an average of nearly 2,000 of those crashes happen in work zones every year.
Wisconsin is going completely hands-free in all work zones in an effort to lower those numbers.
“It’s very simple, it’s see orange cones, put down the phone,” explains Kok.
Emergency phone calls in a work zone, such as dialing 9-1-1, are an exception.
“We don’t want to discourage anybody from reporting something that they may see on the roadway,” says Sgt. Jones.
Hands-free devices, like Bluetooth, will still be legal in work zones.
“You can now, one, get the equipment you need, and two, get in the habit of not holding that phone and going down the road,” says Sgt. Jones.