Florida is Now Hands-Free in School and Work Zones
~ Starting October 1, Florida motorists can be stopped for holding a wireless device in a designated school crossing, school zone or active work zone. ~
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV), with its division of the Florida Highway Patrol (FHP), advises all motorists that beginning October 1, motorists can be stopped for not operating a motor vehicle in a hands-free manner in a designated school crossing, school zone or active work zone area.
FLHSMV, in conjunction with the Florida Department of Transportation, Florida Department of Education, Florida Sheriff’s Association, Florida Police Chiefs Association and AAA – The Auto Club Group, is leading Florida’s Put It Down: Focus on Driving campaign to ensure all motorists are aware of the state’s new regulations regarding wireless communications while driving.
“The hands-free aspect of the law makes school zones, school crossings and active work zones safer across our state and gives law enforcement a strong tool to educate drivers,” said Governor Ron DeSantis. “Using a wireless device while driving is extremely dangerous, and all drivers should be focused on the road.”
“Distracted driving in work zones and school zones puts some of our most vulnerable road users at risk,” said Senator Wilton Simpson. “There is never a safe time to use a wireless device while driving, nothing is more important than protecting lives.”
“I want our children to be the safest as possible when going to and from school,” said Representative Jackie Toledo. “The hands-free aspect of this law will help ensure that parents, teachers, children and crossing guards are always safe and those who work on our roadways are able to come home to their loved ones.”
“Failing to pay attention in school zones, school crossings and active work zones can have devastating consequences,” said FLHSMV Executive Director Terry L. Rhodes. “Driving through these areas requires all of your attention and I implore motorists to pay attention to their surroundings and focus on driving.”
“This new law provides additional protection for Florida’s children and the men and women working on our roadways,” said Colonel Gene S. Spaulding, Director of the Florida Highway Patrol. “Troopers will continue to educate motorists on every traffic stop and explain the dangers of distracted driving.”
“Safety for all road users is our number one priority at the Florida Department of Transportation” said Florida Department of Transportation Secretary Kevin J. Thibault. “Distractions from mobile devices have no place behind the wheel. It is more important than ever to practice good habits while on the road. It is up to each of us to make the commitment to drive distraction free, every trip, every time.”
“We are proud to partner with FLHSMV to promote safe driving habits while driving in a school zone,” said Commissioner of Education Richard Corcoran. “I applaud the Florida Legislature for passing this important law, and thank Governor Ron DeSantis for signing it. This is another opportunity for parents and educators to promote safe driving to Florida students.”
“The Florida Police Chiefs Association and its members see first-hand the deadly consequences of distracted driving,” said Temple Terrace Police Chief Kenneth Albano, President of the Florida Police Chiefs Association. “We are happy that the Florida Legislature enacted a hands-free law for motorists who are driving in a designated school crossing, school zone or active work zone areas. These are some of our most vulnerable areas with heavy pedestrian traffic, so remember to put the phone down and keep your eyes on the road.”
“AAA wants to remind all motorists that hands-free is not risk free,” said Matt Nasworthy, Florida Public Affairs Director, AAA – The Auto Club Group. “The only way to truly avoid distractions is to keep your eyes on the road, your hands on the wheel and your mind on the task of driving.”
Drivers using a wireless communications device in a school crossing, school zone or active work zone will be issued warnings through December 31, 2019. Starting January 1, 2020, drivers will be cited for using any wireless communication devices in a handheld manner in these designated areas.
The Wireless Communications While Driving Law became effective July 1, 2019. From July 1 through September 24, 2019, there have been 463 warnings issued by Florida Highway Patrol for texting and driving. From July 1 through September 22, 2019, there have been 605 citations issued statewide by all law enforcement agencies for texting and driving. FLHSMV has released educational tear sheets to law enforcement agencies statewide to help disseminate messaging about the campaign.
The statewide Put It Down: Focus on Driving campaign aims to raise awareness of and encourage compliance with the Wireless Communications While Driving Law. You can follow the campaign on social media with the hashtags #PutItDown and #FocusOnDrivingFL. The campaign media kit can be found at flhsmv.gov/focusondriving.
The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV) provides highway safety and security through excellence in service, education and enforcement. FL is leading the way to A Safer Florida through the efficient and professional execution of its core mission: the issuance of driver licenses, vehicle tags and titles and operation of the Florida Highway Patrol. To learn more about FLHSMV and the services offered, visit https://www.flhsmv.gov, follow us on Twitter @FLHSMV, find us on Facebook or follow us on Instagram.
This year, the FLHSMV celebrates its 50th anniversary and its Division of the Florida Highway Patrol (FHP) commemorates its 80th year. Learn more at flhsmv.gov/behindthedrive.