Motorists urged to slow down for construction
NEWS SUN STAFF REPORT
As road construction season revs up, state police and transportation officials are reminding motorists to drive carefully in construction zones.
"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 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."
On the Illinois Tollway, a 45 mph work zone speed limit is in effect in all construction zones. First-time work zone speeders will be fined a minimum of $375 regardless of whether workers are present. Second-time offenders are subject to a $1,000 fine and the loss of their license for 90 days.
Drivers should watch for signs that advise when work zones begin and end. Signs are posted a minimum of one-half mile in advance of a construction zone.
The penalty for hitting a construction worker is a $10,000 fine and up to 14 years in jail. Signs also are posted in work zones warning of the penalties. Drivers should keep an eye open for the orange and lime-green fluorescent safety vests that workers wear when near the road.
State Police will be enforcing work zone speed limits this construction season, including enhanced penalties for speeding in work zones.
"We are serious about enforcing work zone safety," Illinois State Police District 15 Commander Tami Haukedahl said. "We know that one of the biggest contributors to work zone crashes, and crashes in general, is speed and driving too fast for conditions. Work zones and the penalties for speeding on the Tollway and IDOT's roads are clearly identified, and those who choose to ignore the law will be ticketed."
This construction season State Police will begin using photo speed enforcement vans to take snapshots of license plates of motorists who speed through work zones on Illinois Tollway and IDOT roads.
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.
In addition, "Operation Hard Hat" details continue in construction zones. This employs troopers with LIDAR guns dressed as construction workers and positioned in work zones to clock the speed of individual vehicles driving by. By radioing a vehicle description ahead to squad cars just outside the work zones, State Police then safely pull the speeders over and issue citations.
Illinois State Police District 15 also is continuing to conduct traditional speed enforcement in and around the construction zones, including special motorcycle details.