Legislation at the Wisconsin Capitol would prohibit the use of hand-held telephones while driving through construction zones when workers are present.
Senator Jerry Petrowski (R-Marathon) is the bill’s author and chair of the Senate Transportation Committee. “While there are obvious difficulties with the enforcement of these laws,” he said, “they do serve as an excellent educational tool and reinforce the idea that safest drivers are those who pay attention to the road and not what’s going on in their cell phones.”
Violators would pay $20 to $40 for their first offense, $50 to $100 for second and subsequent offenses within a year.
Jim Griesbach is the Marathon County Highway Commissioner. He testified at the public hearing. “It’s scary when I have my workers come in at the end of the day and they say they actually have to jump out of the way of a car to avoid being struck.”
Griesbach said a few workers were seriously hurt over the years in Marathon County and one worker was killed.
A hand-held device can be used to report an emergency, Petrowski said, and hands-free devices can be used any time. The bill (SB-135) passed through the committee Thursday, chaired by Petrowski.
There were 83 fatalities in Wisconsin construction zones from 2006-2013, according to the DOT, and more than 1500 every year.