Warm weather means the return of many road and highway construction jobs in Illinois, and the associated work zones require traffic to slow down in order to keep drivers and workers safe. Unfortunately, many drivers ignore warnings and posted speed limit signs in work zones, which can be a very costly mistake—in more ways than one. In Illinois alone, there are an average of a dozen work zone crashes each day, resulting in some 4,500 work zone accidents annually, 177 of those with fatalities, including highway workers, drivers, and passengers. Here, we discuss how you can avoid becoming part of the statistics.
The Dangers of Speeding in Work Zones
Workers may not always be visible in a construction zone, but that doesn’t mean posted speed limits in that zone can or should be ignored. The limits are there not just to ensure worker safety but have been set by those who have evaluated the safest maximum rate of speed given the barriers and other construction equipment in the vicinity. Disregarding these limits increases the level of danger for you, other drivers on the road, and particularly for the construction workers, who are literally putting their life on the line while working only feet from cars that are whizzing by.
Fines Can Be Expensive
Infractions can be expensive. Many work zones are set up with flashing signs to alert drivers that their rate of speed is excessive as they enter the zone. Ignoring that warning and continuing to drive over the posted speed limit can mean a ticket, with a mandatory first-offense price tag of at least $375. A second offense will start at $1,000. Additional violations on top of the speeding charge, such as being cited for using your cell phone while driving, which is illegal throughout the state, can drive the cost up even further.
You won’t even know if you’ve been caught in some zones, as the tickets are issued by mail, after having been documented by cameras in the area and a ticketing officer in a vehicle nearby to verify the infraction. This is one surprise envelope you don’t want to open. And with photographic evidence and officer documentation, it can be tough to overturn in court.
Become a Better Driver in Work Zones
We all know that work zones can feel frustrating if you are in a hurry and traffic is backing up, but speeding and distracted driving can be huge contributors to car accidents in these areas and can result in deadly consequences. Check construction maps before you set out, and allow for extra time if you’ll be proceeding through a work zone, so that you don’t feel the need to exceed the posted limits.
Best practices in a work zone to avoid being a statistic?
- Never drive while using your phone.
- Focus on the road; don’t let passengers, food, the radio, or other items make you a distracted driver.
- Obey every posted speed limit, every time, for the duration of every work zone.
- If possible, move to another lane to avoid construction workers.
- Be prepared for traffic backups; plan ahead to avoid being late.
When Drivers Don’t Heed Warnings in Work Zones
Most drivers know they need to have added caution in work zones and be attentive to warning signs or speed limit changes. However, many are unaware of the rules and enforcement practices in these zones. The Illinois Department of Transportation (iDOT) has an Illinois Highway Safety Plan to help prevent accidents. iDOT also produced a helpful guide that includes details on laws that apply in work zones and penalties for those who violate them.
The negligence of inattentive, speeding or otherwise dangerous drivers in areas of road construction can cause tragic accidents. If you were involved in a car accident in Illinois while proceeding through a work zone, obtaining legal representation immediately is extremely important. Contact the Law Office of Jeff Green for aggressive protection of your rights.