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Construction season begins; work zone laws reviewed

April 21, 2012
By DAVE WERNER ( , Franklin County Traffic Safety Board

Three New York State Department of Transportation workers were killed in May 2005 by a commercial bus speeding through a work zone on Interstate 81 in the town of Chenango (near Binghamton). As a result of this tragedy, the "2005 Work Zone Safety Act" was passed.

This legislation doubled the speeding fines within a work zone and suspended a driver's license for two work zone violations within an 18-month period. It also led to the creation of the state police Traffic Incident Management Team, which consists of 100 troopers statewide, who as part of their duties enforce the Vehicle and Traffic Law in work zones.

There are two types of work zones: stationary, like maintenance on a bridge or repaving a road, and moveable. An example of a moveable work zone is repainting the yellow and white lane lines on a highway. Of the 30,000 to 40,000 traffic fatalities every year nationwide, nearly 3 percent occur in work zones.

Work zones are certainly not there to inconvenience you; they are necessary to improve the roads for everyone. Safety, not just for the workers but for motorists, bicyclists and pedestrians, must be considered. Don't get complacent while driving in work zones. Just because you don't see workers, that doesn't mean they are not out there. Often, reduced speed limits in work areas are necessary because of broken pavement, alignment changes or other unusual geometrics and not solely because workers are present.

Warning signs for work zones will be orange with black lettering. The federal Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices provides direction for municipalities for proper installation of signs, how to control affected traffic safely and how to minimize inconvenience to motorists.

Winters in the North Country are hard on roads, and thus reconstruction of roads is a continuing problem here, as well as a costly one. There is just no way around construction delays in the spring, summer and fall; however, it's got to be a lot better than the everyday traffic delays so common in large cities.

Driving is a full-time job - do not multi-task by using a cell phone, applying makeup, changing radio stations, etc. This is even more important than ever in work zones where unfamiliar or constantly changing driving patterns exist.

If you are aware of road construction on your intended route, leave your house early or use an alternate route to avoid time lost in delays. The DOT routinely updates road construction projects in local newspapers. Be aware of possible delays.

And lastly, stay calm - you can't do anything about it.


This and all previous Did You Know articles may be found on the Franklin County website at Select "Traffic Safety Board" from the pull-down list of departments, and click on "Did You Know articles."



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