SEMINOLE COUNTY, Fla. – Law enforcement teamed up with transportation and school leaders on Wednesday to spread the word about the effects of Florida’s new texting and driving law.
The Seminole County Sheriff's Office and Florida Highway Patrol pulled over several vehicles near Woodlands Elementary in an effort to remind drivers to focus their attention on the road.
“Keep their eyes on the road and hands on the wheel and focus on the task at hand,” Chief Dan Purcell said. “There are too many lives at stake.”
The section of E. E. Williamson Road near Interstate 4 was chosen because it includes a school zone and active construction, which are part of the hands-free portion of the new law.
“You’ve got (the) equipment and you’ve got barrier walls. I mean, there’s just all kinds of stuff that’s happening and so we need people to be paying attention,” Florida Department of Transportation spokesman Steve Olson said.
Seminole County's superintendent was also on hand to speak about the dangers of using a cellphone while children are walking to and from school.
“Let’s face it, kids are kids and are not always going to cross where they’re supposed to cross,” Dr. Walt Griffin said. “I think as adults, we have to take the higher road and do whatever we can do to make the children safe knowing that they’re children.”
In the state of Florida, it is illegal to hold a cellphone or other handheld wireless device while driving through a school zone or an active construction zone. Anyone found in violation of the law could face a $166 fine.
"The goal here is to get people to not touch their mobile device while they're in a car," Purcell said. "It's to try to prevent any type of tragedy in our community."
After Wednesday’s enforcement exercise, officials said they will continue to monitor the area and may perform a similar exercise if needed.