Construction zones are becoming safer places to work in Illinois, and tougher traffic laws are the reason.
Last year, there were 26 fatalities in construction zones, the Daily Southtown reported. Only one involved a construction worker: An Illinois State Toll Highway Authority contractor was killed in December when a truck crashed into a safety barricade on the Tri-State Tollway near west suburban Elmhurst.
In 2004, 38 died in construction zones, including two workers.
Illinois Department of Transportation spokesman Mike Claffey said the passage of several new traffic rules in recent years is improving the safety of roads under construction.
The fine for breaking the 45 mph speed limit in construction zones increased from $100 to $375 last year. A $1,000 fine is given for a second offense.
The governor also amended the vehicle code to allow state police the power to clock speeders from unmarked vans equipped with cameras, and the tickets are mailed to the offenders, the Daily Southtown reported.
State police are adding special details in construction zones on tollways, including new motorcycle patrols and stings that disguise troopers as workers in hardhats, the newspaper reported.
Claffey said driving through construction always will present dangers, even with increased enforcement and penalties.
“There are lane shifts, drop-offs, closed shoulders that could pop up at any moment,” he said. “You will not have any time to stop if you are driving at an excessive speed.”