Governor Bruce Rauner joined state and federal transportation officials to kick off National Work Zone Awareness Week in Illinois. He’s urging drivers to slow down and give workers adequate space as construction season ramps up.
“Construction workers have one of the most dangerous jobs in the state. They put themselves in harm’s way every day to make sure we all have decent roads to travel,” Rauner said. “They deserve to feel safe in their workplace and we want to make sure they go home to their families every night.”
The Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) is partnering with the U.S. Department of Transportation, Illinois State Police, Illinois Tollway and other local and national partners to spread the word about work zone safety. The theme this year is “Work Zone Safety – Everybody’s Responsibility.”
There are about 5,200 work zone crashes in Illinois each year. In 2017, 29 people died in a work zone. IDOT Secretary Randy Blankenhorn says it’s not just construction workers who are killed or injured in these areas.
“Almost four out of five work zone fatalities involve someone other than a worker. That’s why it’s critical that work zones be safe for all – workers, motorists, freight haulers, drivers, pedestrians and cyclists alike,” Blankenhorn said. “As the transportation hub of North America, Illinois will have work zones of all sizes this construction season. Everyone has to be diligent when it comes to keeping safe.”
In recent years, Illinois has strengthened laws to increase safety in work zones. Fines for speeding in work zones are $375 for first-time offenders and $1,000 for a second offense. The penalty for hitting a worker is a fine of up to $10,000 and 14 years in prison.