Troopers enforcing work zone driving rules

April 20, 2010 2:45:56 PM PDT
Illinois State Police and several transportation agencies are enforcing two new distracted driving laws to keep construction zones safe for workers during the busy road construction season.

The first law regulates talking on a cell phone in work or school areas.

"For all drivers, regardless of age, who drive through a school or construction zone, using a cell phone is prohibited, unless using a wireless telephone or a hands-free activated device," said Illinois State Police Captain David Nanninga.

The second law bans sending or reading text messages or emails as well as accessing the Internet while driving.

State police say enforcing the ban on messaging and web browsing is rather easy.

"They're going slower, it's not too often people keep their phone down here and text, a lot of times it's up here by their face," said Nanninga. "We will sit in stationary patrols to slow traffic to see this along with regular patrol efforts."

Drivers caught texting while driving face a $75 fine.

The construction zone on the Eisenhower Expressway (Interstate 290) has its own challenges, including its 27-mile length and many weaves and lane configuration changes.

State troopers were stationed at the western end of the Eisenhower construction zone Tuesday morning, and they had no difficulty finding violators.

State police also have a zero-tolerance policy for speeding in a work zone, even if no workers are present. Speeding in a work zone carries a hefty fine: $375 for the first offense. Second-time offenders face a $10,000 fine and the loss of their drivers' license for 90 days.

This week is National Work Zone Safety Week.

With construction barrels and traffic backups popping up seemingly everywhere, 2010 could be the busiest construction season in recent memory.

The busy season is due in part to President Obama's America Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Between now and November, hundreds of construction and maintenance work zones will appear throughout Illinois on the state and local road systems.


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