Illinois gets tough on speedsters in work zones

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Collinsville—Glyn Ramage, business manager of the Southwestern Illinois Laborers’ District Council, reads a statement by Josie Beard, the widow of Dennis Beard, a union laborer who was killed last year by a reckless driver at a work zone along I-64. Ramage and State Rep. Jay Hoffman (left, behind Ramage) spearheaded a drive to get the state to crack down on speeding drivers. Dale Stewart, executive secretary treasurer of the Southwestern Illinois Building and Construction Trades Council is behind Ramage at right. Labor Tribune photo
Collinsville—Glyn Ramage, business manager of the Southwestern Illinois Laborers’ District Council, reads a statement by Josie Beard, the widow of Dennis Beard, a union laborer who was killed last year by a reckless driver at a work zone along I-64. Ramage and State Rep. Jay Hoffman (left, behind Ramage) spearheaded a drive to get the state to crack down on speeding drivers. Dale Stewart, executive secretary treasurer of the Southwestern Illinois Building and Construction Trades Council is behind Ramage at right. Labor Tribune photo

Collinsville—An effort by the Southwestern Illinois Laborers’ District Council, with the help of State Rep. Jay Hoffman (D-Belleville), to crack down on speeding drivers at highway construction sites, appears to be paying off.

At a joint press conference, The Illinois Department of Transportation and Illinois State Police announced a new plan to use speed signs along interstate highways in Southern Illinois that will photograph license plates of speeding drivers at construction sites and follow up with tickets imposing fines of up to $1,000 and the possible loss of a driver’s license.  Fines will be $375 for first-time offenders.

If a driver hits a worker, they will face a $10,000 fine and up to 14 years in prison.

“Motorists need to slow down, put away their cell phones and pay attention to their driving to ensure our workers make it home to their families safely,” said Glyn Ramage, business manager of the Laborers’ District Council, who was instrumental in getting the state to agree to the plan.

Ramage approached Hoffman last year after a member of his union was killed and three other workers injured along Interstate 64 when a driver crashed into them. He asked Hoffman’s help in getting the state to crack down on speeding and reckless drivers who ignore the lower mileage signs approaching construction sites.

The Laborers’ union, which has thousands of workers on highways throughout the country, has led a national effort in the states to get stricter laws on driving through highway construction sites.

At the press conference, Hoffman said, “This program to install speed indicator boards in interstate work zones will save lives and help prevent work zone accidents by allowing drivers to better realize how fast they are driving and slow down.”

Illinois Transportation Secretary Ann Schneider said speed and inattentiveness are the major reasons for work zone crashes and injuries. Conditions such as narrow lanes, edge drop offs, and equipment next to moving lanes of traffic and lane closures require lower speeds in work zones.

Illinois State Police commander Calvin Dye said police would make an even greater effort to enforce speed limits in construction zones.

“We will make sure drivers obey the warning signs or they will get a ticket in the mail.  If they get more than one ticket in a year, they will get a larger fine or a suspended license, he said.

On average, there are more than 7,000 work zone accidents each year in Illinois. In 2012, there were 19 fatalities and more than 1,000 injuries.

 

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