Construction accident attorneys at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm report that Illinois Governor Pat Quinn commenced the beginning of Work Zone Awareness Week 2013 at the site of the major construction project at I-74 and I-55 in Morton. Governor Quinn reminded the Illinois driving public that safety in work zones should be a top priority.
Every year in April, when construction season begins in the Northern States, one week is designated as the National Work Zone Awareness Week. This year, the campaign theme is “We’re All in This Together,” meant to highlight that work zone safety involves all road users, particularly in urban areas. Major construction projects are beginning across the state of Illinois, and Governor Quinn chose the Morton site to kick off the week-long awareness campaign.
The site at I-74 and I-55 is among the largest road projects under Governor Quinn’s Illinois Jobs Now! program. The $31 billion dollar program initiated in 2009 seeks to create and retain nearly 440,000 new jobs and improve the state’s bridges, roads, transportation networks, schools, and communities. Governor Quinn stated at the ceremony that merely by slowing down, staying off the phone and moving over for construction workers, Illinois motorists can help reduce the number and severity of work zone accidents.
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The national kickoff was held in Washington D.C. and included prominent speakers, such as the Deputy Administrator of the Federal Highway Administration, the widow of a man killed in a work zone, and road workers personally affected by construction crashes. Following the speeches, black sashes were placed over orange construction cones near the National Work Zone Memorial in honor of the men, women, and children killed on American roadway construction sites.
More than 575 Americans died in 2010 from vehicle crashes in work zones, and 85% of those were motorists, not construction or utility workers. In Illinois alone, there is an average of 7,000 work zone motor vehicle crashes every year. Dangerous road conditions, such as narrow or reduced lanes, edge drop offs, equipment, and lane closure significantly contribute to these accidents, however, could be much more easily manageable if motorists slowed down.
This week is also an effort to raise awareness of the state’s“Move Over,” and “No Cell Phones in Work Zones” laws. Governor Quinn acknowledged that educating the public about these already-existing laws is crucial to reducing the number of crashes. The Illinois Department of Transportation’s (IDOT) ultimate goal is to have a zero fatalities and reduce crashes by five percent each year. To achieve this, IDOT recommends motorists reduce speed, see and obey all traffic signs and posted speeds, and avoid distractions.
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The consequences of causing a work zone crash are simply not worth that e-mail you had to send: work zone speeding tickets cost $375 for first offenders and $1,000 for the second, along with a 90-day license revocation. If a driver hits a worker, even if they do not kill them, they face a $10,000 fine and up to 14 years in prison. To enforce these laws, Illinois has deployed photo speed enforcement vans across the state, which are operate by the State Police. Fortunately for Illinois motorists, speed indicator boards are located on top of the vans to give drivers one last shot to slow down to the posted speed.
Of course, all crashes are not caused exclusively by driver negligence or inattention. Many work zone crashes are caused by violated safety guidelines within those work zones, such as pavement edge drop-offs, lack of warning signs, or unmarked lane changes. Problem contractors, for one reason or another, keep getting hired, and there are few penalties when standards are not followed.
Which is why this year’s theme, “We’re All in This Together,” is so important. It recognizes that roadway safety is everyone’s responsibility, from each state’s department of transportation, to contractors, to police officers, to drivers, to bicyclists. Work zone crash lawyers at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm encourage all Americans to help spread awareness this week of the importance of roadway construction zone safety. These crashes are, for the most part, preventable, as are the injuries and fatalities they cause. If you or a loved one was seriously hurt in a work zone crash, you may be entitled to significant compensation through a construction zone lawsuit.