Work zone safety bill advances in New York

| 7/6/2005

The New York Legislature recently wrapped up its work for the year, but not before approving a bill intended to help keep highway construction workers safe. The measure now heads to Gov. George Pataki for his signature.

The effort to crack down on traffic accidents in highway work zones follows the recent death of three construction workers. The workers were killed in May in a chain-reaction crash at a work site on Interstate 81 outside Binghamton, The Associated Press reported. Police believe speeding played a role.

Under the bill, drivers convicted of two or more speeding violations in work zones would have their licenses suspended for 60 days.

Sponsored by Sen. Thomas Libous, R-Binghamton, S4885 also would require a police presence in major work zones and create a public education program. The program would be paid for with the help of a $50 surcharge on all speeding violations in work zones.

In addition to the legislative effort, the New York Transportation Department is putting safety messages such as “Slow Down, My Mommy Works Here” on 103 state trucks, The AP reported.

There were 467 accidents in the state’s work zones in 2004, the news agency reported. One road worker and six drivers died.

Nationwide, the number of people killed in work zone crashes increased from 868 in 1999 to 1,028 in 2003, according to the Federal Highway Administration.