The Illinois State Police and the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) recently unveiled their newest weapon in the battle against speeding motorists in highway construction zones, CBS 2 News Chicago reported.
The state’s new photo speed enforcement vans designed to reduce work zone crashes and save lives were unveiled at the 2006 Chicago Auto Show. State Troopers were on hand to preview one of the three vans that will be deployed in IDOT work zones in the Chicago area, around the state and on the Illinois Tollway starting with this spring’s construction season.
“We want the motoring public to get a look at these photo enforcement vans—at the same time they are viewing all the sleek new cars—and to know that we will be bringing the latest in new technology to bear on the problem of work zone speed enforcement,” said IDOT Secretary Timothy W. Martin. “Our goal is to protect the lives of both the many dedicated workers out there trying to improve our highways, as well as regular citizens traveling through work zones.”
The marked white vans are equipped with the latest in photo radar technology designed to record the speed of vehicles and to capture clear images of the driver and the license plate—regardless of the time of day or weather conditions. Tickets will be sent by certified mail to drivers within six business days. Under the toughened work zone speeding fines that took effect last year, first-time offenders face a $375 fine; second time offenders face a $1,000 fine and loss of license for 90 days.
“One of our main priorities is the safety of the public,” said Illinois State Police Director Larry Trent. “This new technology provides our officers with a tool that will assist in our efforts to gain speed limit compliance within the work zones. We’re concerned about those passing through, as well as the workers on the highway. Our main goal is to get drivers to obey the warning signs and reduce their speeds to the posted limits. Those who choose to ignore these warning, placing their lives and the lives of others in danger, will be ticketed.”
“With the Illinois Tollway’s $5.3 billion Congestion-Relief Program well underway, drivers are seeing more work zones on the tollway. Photo enforcement vans are an additional resource for State Police to drive home the message that speeding in construction work zones is unacceptable,” said Illinois Tollway Executive Director Jack Hartman. “Speeding, impatience and driver inattention are the leading factors in work zone crashes, so we need drivers to slow down and stay alert in work zones for their own safety as well as our workers.”
These vans are an additional state-of-the-art enforcement tool that will be used to help reduce fatalities in work zones. Motorists, as well as workers, are at risk when driving in work zones due to configurations that include narrower lanes, lane jogs and dips, closed shoulders and lane closures. Driving at slower speeds allows motorists more time to react to changed conditions. At least 85% of the fatalities in work zones involve motorists.
The state made progress in reducing the number of work zone fatalities in 2005, thanks in part to toughened work zone speeding fines and to a public education campaign mounted by IDOT, state police and the tollway. There were 26 fatalities in work zones in 2005, including one worker. There were 38 work zone fatalities in 2004, including two workers, and 44 such fatalities in 2003, including five workers.
The vans will be staffed by specially trained State Troopers, and will be used in work zones where workers are present. Signs will be placed on project locations where photo enforcement will be occurring. The Troopers will also be responsible for court appearances for the tickets.
The vans are being provided under a contract with ACS State and Local Solutions, at a cost of $2,950 per month, plus a processing fee of $15 per ticket.