New Law Makes it Illegal to Talk on Handheld Mobile Devices in a Work Zone

3 Aug 2016 12:00 PM | Anonymous

The Wisconsin DOT says distracted driving caused more than 24,000 crashes in Wisconsin in 2015, averaging 1 crash every 20 minutes.

“I’ll be behind people and see them like swerving around and then I see they’re on their phones, it’s frustrating,” said Judianne Johnson of Chippewa Falls.

The Wisconsin DOT says an average of nearly 2,000 of those crashes happen in work zones per year.

In an attempt to lower those numbers, Wisconsin is going completely hands-free in all work zones.

“The more that drivers can be fully attentive while driving and limit their use of cellphones or other devices that may distract them from the task at hand, the safer everybody will be,” said Diana Maas, the Wisconsin DOT Northwest Region Communications Manager.

The new law will go into effect October 1st.

Drivers caught talking on their phones in a work zone will face a $40 dollar fine on a first offense, and $100 dollars on any violations after.

“A good rule, if you see orange cones, put down the phone,” Maas said.

Hands-free devices, like Bluetooth, will still be legal in work zones.

Emergency phone calls in a work zone, such as dialing 9-1-1, are also an exception.

“I don’t use my cellphone when I’m driving anyway, whoever calls me can leave a message,” said driver Betty Hallquist of Eau Claire.

The DOT’s new reminder for drivers is, ‘orange cones, put down the phone.’

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