MONTPELIER (AP) -- Vermont highway and transportation officials have expanded the use of salt-water brine "tow plows," which can cover two lanes on Interstate 89 in a single pass, as they deal with snow and ice covered roads this winter.

Distracted drivers also will face new penalties. Starting Jan. 1, 2014, it will be illegal for a driver to use a handheld electronic device in a work zone. A conviction for a first offense may result in a fine of $230 and a 2-point assessment on a driver’s license. A second conviction carries a fine of $479 and 5 points on a license.

"All the plowing and salting in the world won’t help us if people don’t slow down, put the phone down, put their hands on the wheel and focus on the road," said Transportation Agency District 5 Administrator Dave Blackmore. "We see too many people out there speeding, crowding the plow trucks and driving without proper snow tires. It’s pretty simple. If you slow down and pay attention, you’re much less likely to wind up off the road. We want Vermonters to drive like it’s winter."