|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
||CONTACT: IDOT 217-782-6953
|April 7, 2003
||Illinois Tollway: 630-241-6800 Ext. 2380
TRANSPORTATION AGENCIES CAUTION MOTORISTS
CHICAGO, IL -- Construction season is about to be in full swing
across Illinois, and orange construction cones and signs will soon be a familiar
sight on city streets and state highways.
OF WORK ZONE DANGERS AS CONSTRUCTION SEASON BEGINS
The Illinois Department of Transportation joined with the
Illinois State Toll Highway Authority, the Illinois State Police,
and labor unions to caution motorists to be alert for work zones,
and to slow down when approaching them. April 6-12 is National Work
Zone Awareness week.
"There will be hundreds of work zones on state roads this
summer," Illinois Transportation Secretary Timothy Martin said. "We
want to make sure the men and women working to improve these roads
return to their families each evening, and we want to make sure that
you reach your destination safely.
"Impatience, speeding, and driver inattention are the leading
factors in work zone crashes. If you see red when you see orange,
you’re in the danger zone."
Thirty-one people died in Illinois work zone crashes in 2002, and
more than 2,000 people were injured. State highway construction
zones are not the only danger areas. Nine of the deaths last year
involved work zones on city, county and township roads. Nationally,
more than 1,000 people died in work zone crashes and 40,000 people
If motorists see an accident or an unsafe construction or road
condition, they can get immediate assistance in the Chicago
metropolitan area by dialing *999 on their cellular phones. The
Illinois Tollway and IDOT offer several emergency services to help
motorists in need including the tollway’s H.E.L.P. trucks and IDOT’s
emergency services trucks.
"We need everyone to pitch in and help keep our roadways safe
during construction season," Illinois Tollway Executive Director
Jack Hartman said. "We’re doing our best to offer up-to-date roadway
condition information and emergency assistance, and in return we’re
asking drivers to slow down and stay alert in work zones for their
own safety, as well as that of our workers."
Martin said that drivers need to tend to the task of driving and
to be especially alert when approaching and driving through a work
zone. "This is a time when you need to totally focus on driving and
to be alert for machinery and workers moving in the construction
area. It’s not the time to talk on the cell phone or to someone in
the back seat, or to change the radio station."
Both IDOT and ISTHA advise drivers to merge into the open lane of
traffic as soon as they see the lane closure signs in advance of the
work area to avoid major congestion at the point where the lane is
The agencies are asking motorists to turn on "headlights for
safety" as they travel through a work zone so their vehicle can be
easily seen by on-coming traffic and by workers, and for truck
drivers to also turn on their emergency flashers. Many times truck
drivers downshift to slow their trucks instead of braking, and
trailing motorists fail to notice the truck has slowed until it’s
too late. The flashing emergency lights can warn following vehicles
that traffic is slowing and to leave a safe distance between
The Illinois State Police will continue their presence in work
zones by patrolling each work zone in the state at some point during
the project’s duration. ISP has a zero tolerance policy for work
zone violations, meaning motorists will get a ticket, no warnings
will be issued. Minimum fine in a work zone is $200.
IDOT offers road construction information on the Internet at
www.dot.il.gov. Interstate construction information is also
available by calling 1-800-452-4368. Construction information for
the toll roads can be found at
www.illinoistollway.com. Motorists can call 1-800-TOLL-FYI
(800-865-5394) 24-hours a day for daily updates on work zone
locations and lane closures. The agencies recommend that motorists
take advantage of this information, as well as that provided on the
regional traffic web site
www.gcmtravel.com, so they can plan alternate routes or allow
extra time to reach a destination.
Whenever and wherever you drive, you could encounter a work zone.
Use common sense—slow down and drive with caution. Give ‘Em a