Drivers urged to comply with posted speed limits

By on July 8, 2009

Photo radar vans click to capture speeders in work zones
STATE—The Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) alongside Illinois State Police (ISP) and the Illinois Tollway want to remind motorists construction season is underway and warn that tough laws are in place to buckle down on speeders in work zones. Legislation that was signed into law back in 2004 targets drivers who openly disregard work zone speed limits and endanger the lives of construction workers and other drivers. The enforcement of this legislation has been effective in reducing work zone fatalities by over 50 percent.

“Construction season is in full effect and we want to urge motorists to comply with the posted speed limits in all work zones. We want to send a message to motorists now to slow down in work zones,” IDOT Secretary Gary Hannig said. “If you are caught speeding in a work zone, at minimum you will be looking at a fine of $375, and while some may think that’s harsh, you cannot put a price on a life.”

The law states that first-time work zone speeders, including those caught on camera, will be hit with a fine of $375, with $125 of that sum going to pay off-duty State Troopers to provide added enforcement in construction or maintenance zones. Two-time offenders are subject to a $1,000 fine, including a $250 surcharge to hire Troopers, and the loss of their license for 90 days. Tickets received in a work zone require a mandatory court appearance.

This summer, five vans will be deployed across the state. The specially equipped vans are staffed by trained ISP officers who can take photographs of drivers speeding in IDOT and Tollway construction and maintenance zones. Tickets are reviewed and approved by ISP and will be issued by mail to vehicle owners. The registered owner will not be liable if someone else is driving the vehicle. Businesses and rental companies are required to provide the driver information for any violations occurring with their vehicles. To date, over 8,000 citations have been issued across the state. In addition, drivers who hit a worker are subject for up to a $10,000 fine and 14 years in prison.

“As the work zone season is well underway, we want to remind motorists of the importance of slowing down and staying alert when workers are present,” said Illinois State Police Director Jonathan E. Monken. “In an effort to reduce fatalities and injuries, Troopers will be out in force strictly enforcing the 45 mile per hour work zone speed limit, both for the safety of construction workers and motorists. Drivers can expect to see aggressive enforcement with increased patrol cars, photo enforcement vans and motorcycle units to help save lives on our roadways during this construction season.”

The work zone speeding crackdown is just one of the ways state transportation and law enforcement are working together to accomplish that goal. In 2003, there were 44 work zone traffic-related fatalities with five workers killed. 2007 showed a consistent decrease resulting in 21 traffic-related work zone fatalities with two workers killed.

“Enforcement efforts by Illinois State Police have played a critical role in keeping workers and motorists safe during the massive roadway rebuilding and widening projects underway on all of our Tollway, and the photo speed enforcement vans are a resource that drives home the message that speeding in construction work zones is unacceptable,” said Illinois Tollway Acting Executive Director Michael T. King. “Speeding, impatience, and driver inattention are the leading factors in work zone crashes, so we need drivers to slow down and stay alert in work zones for their own safety as well as our workers.”

Under the provisions of the Automated Traffic Control Systems in Highway Construction or Maintenance Zones Act of 2004, Illinois State Police were given the authority to use cameras to enforce work zone speed limits in cases where workers are present. It also requires that signs be posted when work zone speed limits are being enforced by camera.

IDOT and Tollway officials stress the importance of complying with work zone speed limits even when workers are not present because of the dangers posed by features such as narrow lanes, lane shifts, reduced shoulder width, obstructions and drop-offs. Most people do not realize that over 90 percent of Illinois’ traffic related work zone fatalities are motorists.

For more information regarding photo radar enforcement, visit www.dot.il.gov/workzone/workzone5.html.