Over the complex and years-long reconfiguration project where the Eisenhower and the Tri-State Tollway meet, transportation industry leaders and laborers launched National Work Zone Awareness Week.
The purpose of the week, officials said, is to remind drivers that “work zones are a sign to slow down.”
“Every organization represented here has lost coworkers, friends and loved ones to avoidable work zone crashes,” said Illinois Tollway Interim Executive Director Lanyea Griffin.
She was joined by representatives from The Illinois Tollway, Illinois Department of Transportation, Illinois State Police, industry partners and construction workers.
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Illinois State Police District 15 Commander Jason Bradley said the minimum fine for the first speeding infraction through a work zone is $250. A second offense results in a $750 fine along with a 90-day driver’s license suspension.
It’s not just about the financial consequences on drivers. Being aware of work zones can quite literally be a matter of life and death, officials said.
Less than four full months into 2022, already 10 Illinois State Police squad cars have been struck.
From 2017 through 2020, 141 people were killed in work zone crashes in Illinois, five of them while on the job.
“The road is my workplace,” said Monique Cruz, a mother of four who works as a flagger. “That's why I'm asking drivers to slow down and please stay alert... So we can all return home safely after each work day."
Mike Sturino, president of the Illinois Road & Transportation Builders Association, said that even if a driver doesn’t see a worker when approaching a construction site, it doesn’t mean they aren’t there.
“You know when you're driving into them,” Sturino said of work zones, noting that they are marked “pretty well.”
That’s because bright blaze orange barrels, lane dividers, signage lines every work zone.
In Illinois, Gov. J.B. Pritzker has designated April 11-15 as “Work Zone Safety Week.”
The Illinois Tollway provided tips for motorists to help keep the roadways safe:
WATCH FOR WORKERS.
Keep an eye out for the safety colors of neon orange and yellow that all workers wear when on the roads.
SLOW DOWN WHETHER OR NOT WORKERS ARE PRESENT. It's the law.
- Keep a safe distance from the vehicle ahead of you and follow the posted speed limit
- Work zone traffic lanes are narrower than other lanes
- Traffic patterns shift often
- Pavement may be uneven in sections
PENALTIES FOR HITTING A WORKER ARE SEVERE.
The minimum penalty for speeding in a work zone:
- $250 for the first offense
- $750 minimum for second offense
- Hitting a worker in a work zone could result in a fine of up to $25,000 and up to 14 years in jail
Illinois law requires drivers to slow down and change lanes safely when approaching ANY vehicle with its hazard lights on, not just emergency and maintenance vehicles.
- Reduce speed
- Change lanes if possible
- Proceed with caution
DROP IT AND DRIVE.
Using a hand-held phone while driving is illegal in Illinois. Keep your eyes on the road and off your phone.
Watch for signs advising of traffic shifts, roadway incidents and other warnings.
One of the most common crashes in a work zone is a rear-end collision. In addition, traffic in work zones makes sudden stops.
IF YOU MUST PULL OVER OR ARE IN AN ACCIDENT IN THE WORK ZONE, STAY IN YOUR VEHICLE.
Call *999 for non-emergency roadway assistance.