Starting Tuesday, law enforcement officers across Florida will pull over drivers using handheld cellular phones while in a designated school crossing, school zone or active work zone area.
From Tuesday through the start of the new year, officers across the Sunshine State will issue warnings but they will start issuing moving violations, with a base fine of $60, and drivers could also see fees, court costs and three points added to their driver licenses.
Mark Jenkins, a spokesman for AAA and the Auto Club Group, weighed in on the changes last week and what Floridians should do.
"Floridians should not wait until 2020 to change their driving behavior," said Jenkins. "Cell phones 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 cell phones down and focus on the road."
Jenkins also pointed to the various distractions that drivers using hands-free technology face.
“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,” AAA noted.
"This research reminds drivers that even hands-free technology is dangerous to use while driving in construction and school zones," Jenkins said. "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."