Work zone reduced speeds enforced

Operation Hard Hat (Provided photo — Dave Werner)

Road construction work is now under way for the next several months. With road work comes reduced speeds through work areas and often includes flaggers to control one-way traffic. All this leads to delays for drivers. Unfortunately, too many drivers still refuse to obey reduced speeds and flag persons.

In the picture courtesy of the state Department of Transportation accompanying this column, you see what appears to be several workers with DOT crews performing road maintenance work. However, the man with the flag is a New York state trooper. In an enforcement crackdown on work zone violations — deemed “Operation Hard Hat” — State Police join forces with the DOT each year throughout the state. The DOT and law enforcement said they will be looking for drivers who speed, use cellphones, ignore flagging directions, don’t buckle seat belts, or violate the Move Over Law.

According to the DOT, some of the highest speeds recorded by its Automated Work Zone Speed Enforcement program last year were over 100 miles per hour along state Route 104 in central New York.

In a similar operation in April of this year on the Northway (I-87 between Exits 28 and 29) 61 tickets were issued by Troop B State Police to drivers violating work-zone speed limits or other violations.

In May 2005, three DOT workers were killed by a commercial bus speeding through a work zone on Interstate 81 in the town of Chenango (near Binghamton). As a result of this tragedy, the 2005 Work Zone Safety Act was passed. This legislation doubled the speeding fines within a work zone and suspended a driver’s license for two work zone violations within an 18-month period. It also led to the creation of the State Police Traffic Incident Management Team of approximately 100 troopers statewide whose duties include enforcement of Vehicle and Traffic Law in work zones.

Work zones are not there to inconvenience you — they are necessary to improve the roads for everyone. Just because you don’t see workers doesn’t mean they are not out there. Furthermore, reduced speed limits in work areas are necessary because of broken pavement or alignment changes, not solely because workers are present.

Of the approximately 35,000 traffic fatalities every year nationwide, nearly 3% of those occur in work zones. The job of highway and bridge maintenance is dangerous and deserves the consideration of all drivers. Unfortunately, drivers are impatient, distracted or just inconsiderate, often resulting in injuries or fatalities. It is critically important that motorists eliminate distractions, pay attention to driving and, on multi-lane highways, move over a travel lane to give highway workers room.

Remember, a work zone is a work zone 24 hours a day, seven days a week, even if no workers or equipment are present.

The next time you are tempted to disobey a flagperson or speed in a work zone, be aware remember that one of the DOT workers just might be a trooper.


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