They’ve got the policeman, and now, the
construction worker. Three more characters, and the Illinois State Police will
have the complete Village People lineup.
On July 21, District 15 of the State Police
and the Illinois Tollway launched “Operation Hard Hat,” an aggressive ticketing
campaign that uses undercover police officers, zero tolerance and pricey
citations to help catch speeders in work zones.
In the program, State Police officers shed
their uniforms and weapons for hard hats, orange vests and a LIDAR – light
detection and ranging – gun, which works much like a radar gun, but can more
accurately pinpoint individual vehicles, according to a police press release.
Once a speeder is clocked, the disguised
officer then radios ahead to an officer in a patrol car waiting just outside
the construction zone, who pulls over and tickets the speeder.
Additionally, the minimum fine for a speeding
violation in a work zone in Illinois is $375 and requires a mandatory court
appearance. A second offense has a minimum fine of $1,000 attached.
“Work zone safety is the number one priority on our roads,” Governor
Rod Blagojevich said in a press release. “I commend the Tollway and Illinois
State Police for using a variety of resources to protect not only the people
working on our roads, but also the drivers who rely on the Tollway to get them
safely to and from their jobs, businesses and vacation destinations.”
The end date for the program was not announced, but officials said the
unique enforcement method would be effective even after it ends, as drivers
will never know if a construction worker is actually an officer in disguise.
“The Illinois Tollway is making every effort to slow down traffic in
all work zones,” said Executive Director Jack Hartman in a press release. “The
innovative tools we’re deploying to enforce work zone speed limits demonstrate
our determination to protect roadway workers, as well as our customers.”