Florida drivers now banned from holding phones while in school, work zone

Law enforcement officers to give warnings to violators through Dec. 31

SWEETWATER, Fla. – State officials are kicking off an important campaign on safety, and it's all about the new texting while driving law. The message: "Put it down."

The law about texting and driving went into effect July 1.

Beginning Tuesday, Florida drivers also cannot be holding their phones at all while in a school zone or work zone.

From now until Dec. 31, many law enforcement agencies will be going out and educating drivers about the change.

They'll be making normal traffic stops, but instead of giving out tickets inflicting heavy fines, they'll be giving out warnings and handing out educational material.

They said this is a very real issue they see every single day and the campaign is all about preventing major accidents from happening.

"Definitely don't reach for the phone. Don't put it on your ear while in school zones or construction zones, for obvious reasons," Florida Highway Patrol Lt. Alex Camacho said. "We want to make sure that none of these workers or these children are getting struck."

"It is extremely dangerous and this is just statistics. We didn't just make this up out of nowhere, so that's what we want them to know, and we're trying to educate them on that," Sweetwater police Officer Jonathan Arche said. 

After the new year, law enforcement officers will begin giving out actual citations for breaking the new law.

"Us in law enforcement, we see accidents every day and the No. 1 culprit of it is texting and driving," Arche said.  

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