Hands-Free Work Zone Law Takes Effect October 1st
Starting Oct. 1, 2016, it will be illegal to talk on a handheld cell phone while driving in a Wisconsin road work zone. The new law is geared toward reducing distracted driving and increasing safety for drivers and workers across the state.
I was a traffic investigator with the Racine Police Department for almost 30 years, and I can tell you first-hand that distracted driving is a real problem in our state. Unfortunately, this issue hasn't gotten any better since I retired. Just in Wisconsin, there were 24,089 distracted driving crashes in 2015, resulting in 10,640 injuries and 103 fatalities. Work zones are especially dangerous, and Wisconsin sees an average of nearly 2,000 work zone crashes every year.
These numbers are too high, especially for a problem that can be prevented. Hopefully this law will capture drivers' attention, reduce serious traffic crashes and make our roadways a safer place to travel. Driver's caught violating the new law will face a fine of up to $40 for a first offense and up to $100 for subsequent offenses. Emergency 911 calls are excluded from the ban, and drivers can still use the hands-free setting of their phones while in work zones.