Illinois begins aggressive speed enforcement in construction zones

By Charlie Morasch, Land Line staff writer | 6/5/2008

The Illinois State Police are using vans with cameras and radar guns to photograph motorists and other drivers who speed through highway construction zones, and are enforcing strict penalties for alleged offenders.

Citations for a first offense are $375, and a second offense can cost $1,000 and a 90-day suspension of driver’s license.

State Police officials said four white vans, which are equipped with radar guns, cameras and a monitor to show drivers their speed, have been deployed at different construction zones in the state. As of Thursday, June 5, those vans are deployed at the widening project on the South Tri-State Tollway at Interstate 294, in Will County on Interstate 55, on the Edens Expressway on I-94, and on Interstate 74 in Champaign.

Additionally, some officers will be dressed as construction workers, and will run radar and radio ahead to uniformed officers for alleged speeders, said Lt. Luis Gutierrez, an Illinois State Police spokesman.

“The whole goal has been to reduce fatalities in work zones,” said Lt. Luis Gutierrez. “Fatalities in construction zones are normally blamed on speed. That’s the primary cause. This is primarily to get motorists to slow down.”

The program has been deployed before, with positive results, Gutierrez said.

In 2003, 44 people were killed in construction zone wrecks, he said.

“We’ve (since) cut it to 21, and it has been because of the aggressive initiative we’ve been doing in construction zones,” Gutierrez told Land Line.

Asked if the program’s covert nature was necessary because drivers behave differently when they see patrol cars, Gutierrez said signs posted at the entrances to construction zones on highways warn drivers of the enforcement.

“It’s not really undercover,” Gutierrez said. “We do post signs, and we’ve been actively campaigning and educating the public.”

– By Charlie Morasch, staff writer

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