New hands-free cell phone rule for schools and construction zones starts Tuesday

Hillsborough County

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Drivers who use a cell phone in a school or construction zone risk getting pulled over starting Tuesday, October 1.

The new hands-free law applies to drivers using a phone or handheld device in any capacity, unlike the texting while driving ban that went into effect in July.

Since July 1, 605 texting while driving tickets have been issued statewide, 463 of those from the Florida Highway Patrol. FHP attributes distracted driving for causing more than a thousand wrecks in Florida every week.

The new rule does come with a three month grace period where drivers will only be issued a warning when pulled over. Starting January 1, 2020 law enforcement will issue tickets. Citations will cost drivers $60 and three points on their driving record.

State Representative Jackie Toledo (R-Tampa), who championed anti-distracted driving legislation earlier this year, will join Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister and Hillsborough County School District Superintendent Jeff Eakins to highlight the new law during a news conference Tuesday at Tampa’s Mabry Elementary.

8 On Your Side found many parents who frequently witness distracted driving in their child’s school zone but weren’t aware of the new rule outlawing phone use.

“It makes me nervous, of course,” said Diana Appleby, whose daughter goes to Mabry Elementary, the site of Tuesday’s news conference. “I think it will be a good thing for everybody.”

“Hopefully people know that it exists and they actually stand by it,” said Cindy Corr, another parent.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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