Wisconsin drivers face new cell phone restrictions starting today

Using a cell phone in a work zone will get you a ticket and a $40 to $100 fine

(AP File Photo/LM Otero)
(AP File Photo/LM Otero)

APPLETON, Wis. (WBAY) – Law enforcement officers aren’t just cracking down on speeders passing through road construction zones.

Starting today, using a cell phone will also get you a ticket.

Road construction zones are already hazardous, which is why a new law will force drivers to be more alert by banning cell phone usage unless it’s on a hands-free device.

“Right now there’s about 2,000 construction zone accidents a year. Many of them are attributed to distracted driving. So this law is really a pre-emptive strike at lessening those work zone accidents,” said Mark Kantola of the Wisconsin Department of Transportation.

The new law has just one exception which is for drivers who call 911.

Kristin Marquette lives near a construction zone in Menasha where work is being done on Racine Street.

“I think it will help with some of the safety issues. I don’t know if it will take care of all of them but I think it will definitely help to make things a little bit safer with all the construction around here,” said Marquette.

According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, Wisconsin is one of 14 states with either a full or partial ban on cell phones while driving.

Enforcement is expected to start right away. Authorities say since signs have been posted telling people about the new law, they will more than likely issue tickets instead of warnings.

Sgt. Tim McGrath of the Wisconsin State Patrol said, “Sometimes motorists that are using their phone are so distracted they might not even see a law enforcement officer; they might just be thinking about their conversation. They’re not even paying attention to the surroundings, so those are easy to spot.”

Kantola said, “Kind of the way we’re pitching it right now to help people remember is if you see orange cones, put down the phone.”

If you get caught on your phone passing through a work zone, the fine is $40 for the first offense and $100 each time after that.

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