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Slow down in the construction zones...police are watchingPosted Monday, October 31, 2011, at 11:14 AM
In recent weeks, I've noticed an increase in the number of speeding tickets issued in construction zones.
The newspaper published the names of six work zone speed violators in one day's court news.
There's a lot of highway construction now occurring thanks to Indiana's fully funded 10-year highway construction plan, Major Moves.
You've seen the orange barrels and work zones, and probably seen plenty of highway workers.
With construction of Interstate 69 in high gear in the southeastern and eastern parts of the Greene County, we all need to be more aware of the dangers and safety risks involved in these construction zones.
Indiana State Police Public Information officer Sgt. Curt Durnil from the Bloomington Post agrees and says, "Although speed is a dangerous contributing factor in any crash, it is especially dangerous in construction zones as the landscape of these zones change quickly, many times without much notice. It's our duty as the motoring public to remember, the folks we ask to fix and create our roadways, that we have a privilege to drive on, are sometimes only protected by the reflective neon yellow vest they wear."
Durnil reminds motorists that steep fines await those charged with speeding in these construction zones. The fines are also higher when workers are present.
There is a difference and the difference is a higher fine being imposed for various work zone offenses including; speeding through a work site (IC9-21-5-11), failing to merge at worksite (9-21-8-7.5) or failure to yield to a highway maintenance vehicle 9-21-8-35(c).
In an effort to reduce deaths and injuries in work zones, the Indiana State Police have assigned troopers to work overtime in construction zones to aggressively enforce Indiana's traffic laws.
If motorists are stopped for a traffic infraction in a construction zone, they should expect to be issued a citation, he said.
The Indiana Work Zone Safety Law was revised in July 2011 to set steeper penalties for driving infractions within highway work zones.
Under this law, first time citations for speeding in a work zone result in a minimum fine of $300. The fine increases to a minimum of $500 for a second offense and $1,000 for a third offense within three years.
Motorists who drive recklessly or aggressively through a work zone face fines up to $5,000.
Drivers who injure or kill a highway worker may end up paying a $10,000 fine or serving up to eight years behind bars.
Fines generated from the work zone law are used to fund additional police patrols in and around work zones.
Greene County Sheriff Terry Pierce says his department has also been doing some recent extra patrols in construction zone areas all over the county in an effort to curtail the number of violators.
Construction zone traffic violations can have deadly consequences.
In 2010, 12 deaths occurred in work zones -- including some attributed to dangerous driving, such as following too closely, driver fatigue and improper lane changes.
Interestingly, four out of five people killed in work zones are motorists -- not highway workers.
* One in three work zone crashes is a rear-end collision.
* It takes just one minute more to travel through a two-mile work zone at 45 mph than 65 mph.
* Areas where traffic is entering or leaving work zones are often more dangerous because drivers are changing lanes and establishing position.
Durnil said combating this problem is easy for drivers. They should slow down and pay attention.
"Put down the phone and other distractions and proceed with caution. No one wants a ticket, but no one wants to injure or kill a highway worker either. No text message, email, GPS or just generally speaking being in hurry is worth any of that," Durnil says. "Remember, 'Give 'em a brake!' "
Troopers offer these tips to keep all workers and drivers in construction zones safe.
* Watch for orange "Road Construction Ahead" signs and be prepared to react to stopped or slowing traffic.
* Follow all lane restrictions as posted.
* Do not tailgate and keep your brakes maintained so you can stop in time.
* Do not cut other vehicles off or change lanes across solid white lines. Signal all lane changes.
Nick is the assistant editor for the Greene County Daily World. He can be contacted by telephone at 847-4487 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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