- Editor’s Note: In recognition of National Work Zone Awareness Week and in memory of Kane County Division of Transportation worker Steve Chidester, KDOT and Kane County Connects is posting a series of articles this week to promote work zone safety and to show respect and remembrance for the families of victims who have lost their lives in work zones across the country.
“Work Zone Safety is in Your Hands”
On average, more than 4,800 motor vehicle crashes occur in Illinois work zones every year.
Provisional numbers for 2016 indicate that of 1,000 fatal crashes in Illinois, 37 occurred in work zones, resulting in 44 fatalities including one worker — Steve Chidester of the Kane County Division of Transportation.
In memory of Steve, KDOT has launched a weeklong campaign to remind residents of work zone safety. The goal is to “make zero fatalities a reality.”
“Remember that work zone safety is in your hands,” said KDOT Chief of Construction Dave Boesch. “That means, to keep all our loved ones safe, keep your eyes on the road and your hands on the wheel.”
In addition to reminding ourselves of the importance work zone safety, what can Kane County drivers do? How can we drive more safely? What are our responsibilities if we see someone driving erratically?
Here are 10 tips culled from the Illinois Tollway and Illinois Department of Transportation:
( 1 ) Slow down whether or not workers are present.
Drive the posted speed limit at all times, 24/7, because:
- It’s the law
- Work zone traffic lanes are narrower than other lanes
- Traffic patterns shift often
- Pavement may be uneven in sections
( 2 ) Understand the penalties — and remind others.
The minimum penalty for speeding in a work zone:
- $375 for the first offense
- $1,000 minimum for second offense
- Hitting a worker in a work zone could result in a fine of $10,000 and up to 14 years in jail
( 3 ) Move over for emergency vehicles.
Illinois law requires drivers approaching stationary emergency vehicles displaying flashing lights, including towing and recovery vehicles and stranded and disabled vehicles with flashing hazard lights traveling in the same direction to:
- Change lanes if safe and possible
- Reduce speed
- Proceed with caution
( 4 ) Pay attention.
Watch for signs advising of traffic shifts, roadway incidents and other warnings. Workers and heavy equipment may only be a few feet from passing vehicles. Arrow boards and flaggers are not there to make your life more difficult, they are there to help guide you safely through the work zone.
( 5 ) Drop It and Drive.
Using a hand-held phone while driving is illegal in Illinois.
( 6 ) Don’t tailgate.
One of the most common crashes in a work zone is a rear-end collision. In addition, traffic in work zones makes sudden stops.
( 7 ) Watch for workers.
Keep an eye out for the safety colors of orange and fluorescent lime-green that all workers wear when on the roads.
( 8 ) If you must pull over or are in an accident in the work zone, stay in your vehicle.
Call *999 for non-emergency roadway assistance.
( 9 ) Be patient.
Most of the time work zones require lane closures. Remain alert in case you need to slow down or stop due to traffic or construction work.
( 10 ) Turn on your headlights.
Workers and other motorists driving through the work zone need to see your vehicle. Large truck operators should use emergency flashers to warn trailing motorists that they are slowing down.
‘Embrace the Orange’
SOURCE: KDOT, IDOT, Illinois Tollway
Read the ‘Remembering Steve’ Work Zone Safety Series
- Friday — KDOT’s April 1 Road Cleanup Has Deeper Meaning
- Monday — What KDOT Is Doing to Improve Work Zone Safety
- Tuesday — ‘Remembering Steve’ by Wearing Orange Wednesday
- Wednesday — What Kane Drivers Can Do to Make Zero Fatalities a Reality
- Thursday — Remembering Steve: Let’s Bring National Work Zone Memorial to Kane County