New driving law takes effect Oct. 1
Handheld mobile device use banned in Wisconsin work zones
For Hub City Times
MADISON — A new Wisconsin law takes effect Oct. 1, making it illegal to talk on a handheld mobile device while driving through a work zone. The law is part of Wisconsin’s continued efforts to reduce distracted driving and enhance highway safety.
“Holding a phone up to the ear takes precious attention away from the road,” said David Pabst, director of the Wisconsin Department of Transportation Bureau of Transportation Safety. “In a work zone, there are narrow, shifting lanes, and there is a lot of activity occurring in a condensed space. It’s vitally important that drivers stay focused and alert at all times.”
Drivers face fines of up to $40 on first offense and up to $100 for subsequent offenses. The law applies to anyone operating a motor vehicle within a work zone, including commercial drivers and workers.
There is an exemption granted in the event a motorist must use a handheld mobile device to call 911. Bluetooth and hands-free devices remain legal to use while driving through a work zone, but drivers are encouraged to refrain from phone calls altogether to give undivided attention to the road.
Mobile device use continues to be a leading cause of distracted driving. Texting while driving already is illegal in Wisconsin.
From 2011 to 2015, 47 people have been killed and 3,592 were injured in a total of 9,664 crashes in Wisconsin work zones. In 2011 there were seven fatalities and 750 injuries resulting from 1,708 work zone crashes. In 2015 there were 13 fatalities and 645 injuries resulting from 2,411 work zone crashes. Motorists and passengers suffer the vast majority of injuries and deaths.