COLLINSVILLE — The Illinois Department of Transportation and Illinois State Police joined Illinois State Rep. Jay Hoffman Monday at the site of an active construction project on Interstate 255 to provide an update on a work zone pilot program geared to help eliminate traffic-related deaths on Illinois roads.
Last year, IDOT worked with Hoffman to use speed indicator boards on 13 Metro East and Southern Illinois interstate construction projects to display the speed of approaching vehicles in work zones. The speed indicator boards are now being used on all interstate projects with lane closures, after seeing a significant reduction in work zone speeds in areas where the boards were used.
“We saw an increase in work zone fatalities last year, and we want to do everything we can to reduce severe injury and fatal crashes on Illinois roadways,” Illinois Transportation Secretary Ann L. Schneider said. “We appreciate the support from Representative Hoffman and Illinois State Police to help us with this initiative to get travelers to slow down and eliminate distractions to improve the safety of everyone on the road, including our workers.”
The radar technology captures the speed of drivers and displays it on the speed indicator board. If motorists are exceeding the pre-set speed limit, the sign flashes the real-time speed of oncoming vehicles.
With an active construction season under way in Illinois, motorists can expect significant maintenance and construction activity statewide. Speed and inattentiveness are major contributing factors to work zone crashes. Conditions such as narrow or reduced lanes, edge drop-offs, equipment next to moving lanes of traffic and lane closures require reductions in speed to safely travel through work zones.
“The speed indicator board program has been extraordinarily successful in improving road safety in the Metro East by serving as a constant reminder to drivers to slow down and be more aware of their surroundings,” Hoffman said. “Expanding this program statewide will ensure safe construction zones for both motorists and workers.”
Under regulations that took effect in 2004, work zone speed fines are $375 for first-time offenders and $1,000 for second-time offenders, and if a worker is present, the loss of their driver’s license for 90 days. If a motorist hits a worker, they face a $10,000 fine and up to 14 years in prison. Photo speed enforcement vans operated by Illinois State Police Troopers will be out in force again this year during construction season. The work zone fines apply to photo speed enforcement. Signs announcing the vans’ potential presence are posted prior to motorists entering the zone and the speed indicator board gives the driver one last chance to slow down.
On average, there are more than 7,000 work zone motor vehicle crashes in Illinois every year. In 2013, provisional data shows there were 28 work zone-related fatalities in Illinois, including one worker. In 2012, there were 19 fatal work zone crashes, involving fatalities to 13 drivers, three passengers and three pedestrians. Two of the pedestrians were workers.
In an effort to reduce fatalities on roadways, Illinois has adopted an overall zero fatality goal as part of the Illinois Strategic Highway Plan. The agency’s goal is to have zero worker fatalities and reduce work zone crashes by five percent annually. To help achieve this goal, the agency recommends slowing down, obeying posted speed limits, putting down the cell phone and avoiding distraction in a work zone.
For more information regarding work zone safety, visit http://embracetheorange.com/.