SPRINGFIELD - Illinois Department of Transportation
(IDOT) Secretary Timothy W. Martin joined Illinois State
Police (ISP) Director Larry Trent urging motorists to
use caution and slow down in work zones as highway
construction season officially kicks off for this year.
IDOT and State Police are participating with the
Laborer’s International Union in observing National Work
Zone Safety Week, which runs April 3-9.
“April is when highway construction really kicks into
high gear and we need motorists to be watching out for
and slowing down in our work zones,” said IDOT Secretary
Timothy W. Martin. “Our goal is to protect the lives of
both the many dedicated workers out there trying to
improve our highways, as well as drivers and passengers
traveling through work zones.”
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
“The people working on these roads are our family,”
said Edward M. Smith, Vice President, Regional Manager
and Assistant to the General President, Laborers
International Union of North America. “We’re asking
motorists to drive through work zones as if their sons
and daughters, mothers and fathers are working in these
The state made progress in reducing the number of
work zone fatalities in 2005, thanks in part to
toughened work zone speeding fines and to a public
education campaign mounted by IDOT, State Police and
their highway safety partners. There were 26 fatalities
in work zones in 2005, including one worker. There were
38 work zone fatalities in 2004, including two workers,
and 44 such fatalities in 2003, including five workers.
“We know that driving too fast for conditions is one
of the biggest contributors to crashes in general.
Driving too fast in the work zones further exacerbates
an already dangerous situation,” ISP Director Larry
Trent said. “In the next few weeks ISP will be deploying
our latest tools for bringing speed under control, our
photo speed enforcement vans.”
The marked white 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 – regardless of the time of day or
weather conditions. Tickets will be sent by certified
mail to drivers within six 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.
These vans are an additional state of the art
enforcement tool that will be used to help 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. At least 85 percent of the
fatalities in work zones involve motorists.
The vans will be staffed by specially trained State
Troopers. They will be used in work zones where workers
are present, beginning in Northeastern Illinois within
the next few weeks and downstate later this year. Signs
will be placed in project locations where photo
enforcement will be occurring. The Troopers will also be
responsible for court appearances for the tickets.
On Friday, April 7, IDOT and the Laborers
International Union will team up to host Work Zone
Safety Week events at rest areas throughout the state.
Laborers and IDOT staff will provide information about
the importance of slowing down in a highway work zone,
enforcement and penalties. They will be at rest areas
near Bloomington, Springfield, Rockford, Marion and the
Metro East area from 10am-4pm.