At Issue: Cell phones banned in construction zones - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

At Issue: Cell phones banned in construction zones

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"It was brand new to me, hadn't heard anything about it," says driver Arthur Wood.

Which is why he didn't think twice about doing what he always does when he gets into his car after a day of work. But, this time, when he called home to check in, he got a surprise he wasn't expecting.

"Went up on Main Street and happened to drive by the police station holding my cell phone up to my ear and the officer pulled out and blue lighted me and pulled me over and informed me of the new law that went into effect January of this year," he says.

"Because it went into effect in the middle of the winter wasn't a lot of work zones, they are surprised. It wasn't well advertised, so we're trying to get that message out there," says St. Johnsbury Police Chief Clement Houde.

Houde has worked on the force for more than twenty years, but this Spring has been tougher than most.

Main roads through St. Johnsbury are torn up as crews replace the outdated water system.

"Often times sitting in some of these work zones trying to slow traffic down, even with the blue lights there, vehicles are still coming into these work zones too fast and they're too distracted. So we want people to slow down, put the phone down and pay attention to what they're doing so the workers themselves can go home safely at night," he says.

"Roughly, each year, over a ten year period we've seen a range of 50 to 60 crashes every year in work zones around the state," says Kevin Marshia, Assistant Chief Engineer for Vermont's transportation agency.

With construction zones all across Vermont, it's not unusual to see signs like this one, but drivers say, they also think the state should be posting signs about the new law.

A day after our interview, we noticed these electronic messages on Interstate 89 letting drivers know about the new law.

"There's an interesting time frame here where there's no cell phones in work zones up until October first of this year when the hand held device ban goes into effect statewide." Marshia says.

He says some press releases have gone out, but they were waiting to see what would happen with the overall ban before moving ahead.

"We were watching very closely the law that was making its way through the legislature on banning hand held electronic devices for all users on all sections of the highway, not just work zones. So we were watching that pretty closely to make sure we weren't sending out mixed messages and that we were able to, if the ban did pass, that we were able to incorporate those messages as well," he says.

Arthur Wood says, he's hoping by speaking out other people won't pay the price he did.

"My ticket was 230 dollars and two points. That's a good chunk of change," he says.
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