Motorists Urged to Slow Down in Work Zones As 2007 Highway
Construction Season Kicks Off
Photo enforcement vans on Illinois roads for second
year As nation marks work zone safety week
SPRINGFIELD - Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) Acting Secretary
Milt Sees and Illinois State Police (ISP) Director Larry Trent are warning
drivers to be alert and slow down in work zones as the 2007 highway construction
season kicks off. For the second year, State Troopers will be enforcing
Illinois’ tough work zone speeding law with photo enforcement vans that snap
photos of speeding cars.
Also this year, Dunkin’ Donuts will be honoring and thanking road
construction workers across Illinois during Work Zone Safety Week by offering
free coffee to construction and maintenance workers outfitted in lime green
safety vests on Friday, April 6.
“April is the month when highway construction gets underway and we want the
public to know that it is critical that they slow down and be on the lookout for
workers and equipment in these work zones,” said IDOT Acting Sec. Milt Sees.
“Our goal is to protect the lives of both the many dedicated workers who are
improving our roadways, as well as drivers and passengers traveling through work
zones. Thanks to strict enforcement by the State Police, we have been making
steady progress in reducing work zone fatalities in Illinois.”
Since Gov. Blagojevich signed legislation in 2004 that toughened work zone
speeding fines to $375 for a first offense, the number of work zone fatalities
went from a total of 44 fatalities, including five workers, in 2003, to a total
of 28 fatalities last year, including one worker.
“We know that driving too fast for conditions is one of the biggest
contributors to crashes in general and work zone crashes in particular,” said
ISP Director Larry Trent. “Photo enforcement has given us an additional tool for
enforcing work zone speed limits and drivers across the state should expect
aggressive enforcement – whether it is by photo enforcement, regular patrol cars
or our Motorcycle unit.”
Trent also noted that ISP will also be strictly enforcing Scott’s law
violations, which make it an offense if a driver fails to slow down and if
possible change lanes when police squad cars or other emergency vehicles with
flashing lights are on the shoulder.
In recognition of the hazards faced daily by road construction workers,
Dunkin' Donuts stores throughout the state of Illinois will give away free
coffee to all construction workers and other personnel wearing lime green safety
vests on Friday, April 6, as part of the company's "Thanking Those Who Serve"
“The men and women who work to re-build our roads do a great job of making
the roads safe and suitable for all of us,” said Kathy Nowicki, field marketing
manager for Dunkin' Donuts. “These people work long hours, often in less than
desirable weather and conditions. They deserve our support and extra attention
when we're out on the roads. Inviting them into our stores for free coffee on
Friday is our way of honoring and thanking road construction personnel and
calling attention to the important job they do.”
In Illinois, there are an average of 6,700 crashes in highway work zones
every year, resulting in approximately 2,800 injuries. Governor Rod R.
Blagojevich convened a Work Zone Safety Task Force in the fall of 2003, which
made a number of recommendations to improve highway work zone safety; including
better defined and more consistent looking work zones, stiffer penalties and
photo enforcement of speed limits within work zones.
Photo enforcement vans operated by State Troopers were deployed for the first
time last year. Three vans were active at various locations throughout the state
and Troopers issued over 4,000 citations. A fourth van will be added to further
expand the program later this year.
The marked white photo enforcement vans are equipped with the latest in photo
radar technology designed to record the speed of vehicles and to capture clear
images of the driver and the license plate. Tickets are sent by certified mail
to drivers within 14 business days. Under the toughened work zone speeding fines
that took effect last year, first time offenders face a $375 fine; second time
offenders face a $1,000 fine and the loss of their drivers license for 90 days.
The vans are staffed by specially trained State Troopers. They are used in
work zones where workers are present. Signs will be placed in project locations
where photo enforcement will be occurring.
These vans are an additional state of the art enforcement tool that helps
reduce fatalities in work zones. Motorists, as well as workers, are at risk when
driving in work zones due to configurations that include narrower lanes, lane
jogs and dips, closed shoulders and lane closures. Driving at slower speeds
allows motorists more time to react to changed conditions.
IDOT personnel and State Troopers will be stepping up their work zone safety
outreach efforts this Friday, April 6, by passing out leaflets to travelers at
Interstate rest areas across the state. IDOT and ISP will be holding media
availabilities from 10 a.m. to noon on Friday at the following five rest areas:
- Northbound I-57 Trail of Tears rest area, at mile marker # 32, in Union
- Eastbound I-64 Gateway rest area, at mile marker #25, in Metro East.
- Northbound I-55 Railsplitter rest area, at mile marker # 104,
- Eastbound I-74 Mackinaw Dells rest area, at mile marker 114, near
- Southbound I-39/90 Turtle Creek Welcome Center/Rest Area, at mile marker
# 2, near Rockford.
For more information about these events, contact either IDOT or ISP press