Michigan House OKs bill to enhance penalties in work zones

| 11/5/2007

A bill in Michigan that would expand penalties for people who drive recklessly, injuring or killing someone in road construction zones, is halfway through the statehouse.

Michigan law now allows for stiff penalties for drivers who injure or kill construction workers in work zones. House lawmakers unanimously approved a bill that would extend penalties for all wrecks occurring in work zones in which someone is injured or killed, regardless of whether a construction worker is involved.

“Anyone who drives recklessly through construction zones must be held accountable, regardless of whether a construction worker was involved in the accident,” Rep. Barb Byrum, D-Onondaga, said in a written statement. “Reckless driving is just that – reckless – and punishment should be based on the incident at hand, not on who was involved.”

Drivers who commit moving violations resulting in injury to construction workers now face up to $1,000 in fines and/or one year in jail. If the incident results in death to a construction worker, offenders face up to $7,500 in fines and/or 15 years in prison.

Byrum’s bill would extend those penalties to include anyone found guilty of causing a wreck in a construction zone, that injures or kills someone, even if the wreck doesn’t involve a construction worker.

According to the Michigan Department of Transportation, there were more than 6,300 work-zone crashes in the state in 2004. There were more than 1,700 injuries and 22 fatalities.

The bill – HB4469 – has moved to the Senate Transportation Committee.

To view other legislative activities of interest for Michigan in 2007, click here.

– By Keith Goble, state legislative editor