Caution: Please Stay Safe This Construction Season
BY JEFF BRODBECK
Manager of Safety and Security, Morris Hospital
It’s been said that Illinois is a land of two seasons: winter and road construction.
Road construction can be extremely hazardous for both the drivers and the workers. In the United States in 2015, there were 136 construction worker deaths caused by incidents involving motor vehicles. Of those, 66 were due to collisions with another vehicle and 24 were pedestrians who were hit by vehicles.
In Illinois, there are an average of 4,500 motor vehicle crashes per year which result in approximately 1,100 injuries and 27 fatalities.
As a measure to help keep road construction workers safe, Illinois has assigned some relatively hefty fines to driving infractions in construction zones – $375 for a first speeding offense and a minimum of $1,000 for the second offense. If the second offense is within two years of the first, your driver’s license can be suspended for 90 days.
Reckless homicide offenses in work zones are increased from a Class 3 felony to a Class 2 felony, with imprisonment from 3 to 14 years.
With all of that said, here are a few things to remember to keep everyone safe:
- Expect the unexpected: Traffic may stop suddenly, lanes may shift, and people may be working near the road, as just a few of the many hazards present in work zones.
- Pay attention to signage: Warning signs are posted in advance of the construction zone. Construction zone speed limits will be posted.
- Pay attention to flaggers’ signals
- Pay attention in general: Don’t drive distracted
- Be patient! Expect delays and leave early as needed.
- Get over in plenty of time when a lane is closing in front of you: Zooming past traffic and getting over at the last second is dangerous, ultimately costs everyone more time, and will probably result in some impolite gestures from other motorists.
- Slow down! Obey the posted speed limits. And remember, the speed limit applies if it’s posted whether there are workers present or not.
- Drive defensively: Don’t follow too closely.
- Obey signage until the end: The construction zone ends when you get to the sign, not when you see it
- Moring, H. “10 Tips for Driving Safely in Road Construction Zones.” Schneider, 7/2016. (https://schneiderjobs.com)
- “Work Zone Facts for You, the Motorist.” IDOT (http://www.idot.illinois.gov)
- Jones, K. “10 Road Construction Work Zone Safety Tips” ConstructConnect, 4/2017 (https://www.constructconnect.com)