State troopers cracking down in construction zones

Posted By: Nick Monacelli

Kent County, Mich. (WZZM) - The summer travel season is coming closer, which means summer road construction will follow right behind.
And this year more than ever, police are saying you better slow down.
Police throughout Michigan will be keeping a closer eye on the work zones this summer, watching for people who speed through them and giving them a ticket.
The men and women who work on the slower side of the barrels love their jobs, saying they'd take concrete over calculators and steel over staplers any day.
But what they would give up in a heartbeat are the work zone hazards they can't control.
"90% of the people respect (the laws), and you're going to have a few that don't," says Lynn Dodson, the site foreman for the bridge repair work on I-96.
Dodson says those few who don't obey the laws do jeopardize others.
"The few that don't make it tough on everybody else, tough on the guys out here, you always have to watch your back."
That's why the Michigan Department of Transportation is giving the Michigan State Police $120,000 for increased construction patrols.
Trooper Michael Hall, a 20 year veteran, is excited to spread the message of safety.
"Everyone has somewhere they have to be, and they're not paying attention to their speed whether they're on a cell phone or not," says Hall. "You have people working there in the construction zone, for their safety it'd be nice if they would just slow down."
In 2008 there were 4,777 work zone crashes in Michigan, of those 1,278 caused injuries, and 13 people died.
"With everyone texting and reading and using their phones and doing other things other than driving, the biggest reason for work zone crashes is lack of attention," says MDOT spokesman John Richard.
Richard says the statistics speak for themselves and should provide enough incentive to slow down.
"(The workers) are so close to the traffic flow, and with cars whizzing by at 45 miles an hour, that's fast enough," he says. "So when they go faster then that it just creates a lot more problems then there would be if they were going slower."
But if the numbers aren't enough deterrent, the increased patrols should be.
"You notice a big difference when they're out here," says Dodson. "Nobody wants a ticket in a work zone."
And for an extra boost of incentive - consider the workers themselves.
"They're out here to make a living, they'll all have families," says Dodson. "They're not here to inconvenience people even though that's what we are doing. Just respect us, drive within the work zone speed laws."
A new law went into effect last October. If you injure or kill anyone, not just a construction worker, in a work zone you'll be subject to up to 15 years in prisonand $7,500 fine.
Traffic fines are doubled in work zones.
For a list of current and future construction projects click here.