|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 30, 2005
Cheryle Jackson 312/814.3158
Abby Ottenhoff 312/814.3158
Rebecca Rausch 217/782.7355
Gerardo Cardenas 312/814.3158
Matt Vanover 217/836.2267(IDOT)
Lincoln Hampton 312/446.1676 (ISP)
IDOT, Tollway and State Police Warn Drivers
to Prepare for
Highway Construction Season
New tools this year include increased fines, loss of
license and photo enforcement
CHICAGO—The Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) joined with the
State Police and Illinois Tollway to remind motorists construction season is
about to kick in to gear and warn that tough new laws are on the books that
target drivers who flout work zone speed limits and endanger the lives of
construction workers and other drivers.
“Next week is Work Zone Safety Week and the traditional beginning to highway
construction season. We want to send a message to motorists now to slow down in
work zones,” IDOT Secretary Timothy W. Martin said. “If you are caught speeding
in a work zone, at minimum you will be looking at a fine of $375, at worst, you
can kill yourself, a loved one or a worker.”
Under enhanced penalties passed by the Legislature and signed into law by Gov.
Rod Blagojevich last year, first-time work zone speeders, including those caught
on camera, will be hit with a fine of $375, with $125 of that sum going to pay
off-duty State Troopers to provide added enforcement in construction or
maintenance zones. Two-time offenders are subject to a $1,000 fine, including a
$250 surcharge to hire Troopers, and the loss of their license for 90 days.
Starting in July, State Troopers will deploy specially equipped vans that can
take photographs of drivers speeding in IDOT and Tollway construction and
maintenance zones. Tickets will be issued by mail to vehicle owners.
In addition, drivers who hit a worker are subject for up to a $10,000 fine and
14 years in prison.
"Preventing the accidents and injuries caused by crashes occurring in work zones
is a significant responsibility for the Illinois State Police," said ISP
Director Larry Trent. “We must protect these workers who ultimately make all of
us safer by improving our roadways. Troopers assigned to work zone details will
take a zero tolerance approach when issuing citations to speed limit violators.
The message is clear -- Slow down; we're serious about workzone safety."
Gov. Blagojevich has set of goal of reducing traffic deaths to fewer than 1,000
a year by 2008. The work zone speeding crackdown is just one of the ways state
transportation and law enforcement are working together to accomplish that goal.
According to provisional data from 2004, 39 people were killed in work zones
last year, with two of them being workers. In 2003, 44 people were killed in
work zones, with 5 being workers.
“Since the Tollway just launched our $5.3 billion Congestion Relief Plan,
drivers will see more work zones on the Tollway than they have in the past.
We’re doing our part to ensure construction areas are well marked and that
drivers are well informed as they travel through our construction areas,” said
Illinois Tollway Executive Director Jack Hartman. “But impatience, speeding and
driver inattention are the leading factors in work zone crashes, so we need
drivers to slow down and stay alert in work zones for their safety as well as
Under the provisions of the Automated Traffic Control Systems in Highway
Construction or Maintenance Zones Act of 2004, Illinois State Police were given
the authority to use cameras to enforce work zone speed limits in cases where
workers are present. It also requires that signs be posted when work zone speed
limits are being enforced by camera.
Photo enforcement vans will be equipped with cameras designed to record a clear
image of the vehicle and driver, it’s speed, and registration plate. The
registered owner will not be liable if someone else is driving the vehicle.
Photo speed enforcement will be taking place at various construction zones
around the state, including on the Dan Ryan and Kingery projects and Tollway
projects in the Chicago area as well as various downstate projects.
IDOT and Tollway officials stressed the importance of complying with work zone
speed limits even when workers are not present because of the dangers posed by
features such as narrow lanes, lane jogs, reduced shoulder width, obstructions
IDOT and Tollway staffers will be conducting an outreach effort directed at
members of the driving public on Friday, April 1, at highway rest stops and
Tollway oases around the state.
The increased work zone speeding penalties and photo speed enforcement are just
two of the recommendations of the Work Zone Safety Task Force assembled by
Governor Blagojevich in 2003. Other recommendations of the Task Force, comprised
of members from IDOT, Illinois State Police, the Tollway, Federal Highway
Administration, labor and industry representatives include:
- Better defined work zones—projects on multi-lane highways have signs
better identifying the appropriate speed in a particular work zone and also
when it is safe to resume normal speed.
- Modified driver education curriculum—A compact disc and teaching manuals
have been mailed to more than 1,500 high schools and private driver
- New Signage—A new sign has been developed and is being placed at
projects throughout the state publicizing work zone related penalties, “Hit
a worker, $10,000 fine, 14 years in jail”.
- Enhanced use of stationary and portable changeable message boards in
and around work zones.
- More consistent looking work zones.
- Remote controlled flaggers—IDOT is using federal research funds to test
20 newly developed remote flagger workstations.
- “Trooper in a Truck”—allowing state police to covertly enforce speed
limits, out-of-uniform and in IDOT trucks.
- Trooper Hire-back—$4.7 million has been identified to fund additional
troopers in work zones throughout the state. Additional troopers allow state
police to deploy work zone details in areas of heightened concern.