TAMPA — Beginning Oct. 1, Florida law enforcement officers can begin pulling drivers over for using their handheld cellular phone while driving in a designated school crossing, school zone or active work zone area.
Officers will issue warnings until Jan. 1. In 2020, violators could be charged with a moving violation, which includes a base $60 fine (not including court costs or other fees) and three points on their driver license.
“Floridians should not wait until 2020 to change their driving behavior,” said Mark Jenkins, spokesman, AAA – The Auto Club Group. “Cellphones create dangerous driver distractions in any situation. School and construction zones are especially volatile environments, and if you’re not paying attention bad things can happen fast. AAA urges all drivers to put their cellphones down and focus on the road.”
Even using hands-free technology is not risk-free. AAA research revealed that drivers encounter dangerous mental distractions while using voice-based technology to text, change music or dial a phone number. In fact, AAA research shows the mental distraction can linger 27 seconds after using the technology. For drivers traveling 25 mph, that’d be like driving the length of three football fields, without fully paying attention to what’s going on around you.
“This research reminds drivers that even hands-free technology is dangerous to use while driving in construction and school zones,” Mr. Jenkins continued. “Just having your hands on the wheel is not enough. It’s important that drivers be focused on driving, so they can quickly react to any potential hazards on the road around them.”