Drivers urged to drive safely during construction season

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Speed limits through work zones are typically reduced by 10 to 15 mph. (WLS)

As construction season begins, the Illinois State Police and Illinois Department of Transportation has one message: See orange, slow down, save lives.

Work Zone Safety Week is about awareness of the dangers of driving through construction areas, as well as the dangers of driving too fast or distracted - the main causes of work zone crashes, according to state police.

"They shouldn't be reading, they shouldn't be texting, they shouldn't be doing make-up, they shouldn't be eating, all these are distractions," said Capt. David Byrd, of the Illinois State Police. "You should have your mind focused on what's in front of you. The lanes are smaller, there's no room for error."

Speed limits through work zones are typically reduced by 10 to 15 mph.

In the work zone along the Eisenhower Expressway, construction crews can come within just a couple of feet of high-speed traffic. Even when workers are not present, it's critical to slow down.

"Our normal lanes are 12 feet," said Tony Quigley, an IDOT engineer. "(During construction), we go down to 10-, 10-and-a-half-, 11-foot lanes and there are barrels and wind, elements can move stuff around - we just want people to be slow."

IDOT will be placing more speed indicator boards in work zones. State police also will have increased patrols.

"We do have spotters and they call out certain vehicles," said ISP Capt. David Byrd. "Then we have other units who will take enforcement as the vehicles get farther out of the zone when it is safe to make traffic stops.

Major projects this year include bridge reconstruction at Lake Shore Drive and the Stevenson Expressway, scheduled through fall 2017. Also, Jane Byrne Interchange construction is scheduled for completion in fall 2020.

Fines for speeding in a work zone is $375 for the first offense and $1,000 for a second offense.

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