Pataki Signs Work Zone Safety Act at Binghamton Ceremony

Wed July 27, 2005 - Northeast Edition

ALBANY (AP) A measure to crack down on speeding and other traffic infractions in construction zones was signed into law July 14 by Gov. George Pataki.

The Work Zone Safety Act was passed after the death of three construction workers, killed in a May chain-reaction crash at a work site on Interstate 81 outside Binghamton. Police believe speeding played a role.

Under the new law, anyone convicted of two or more speeding violations in a work zone would face a 60-day license suspension. The bill also requires a police presence in major work zones and creates a public education program through a $50 surcharge on all construction zone speeding violations.

A total of 467 traffic crashes were reported in state Department of Transportation work zones in 2004. Since 1995 there have been 485 motorist “intrusions” into work zones, instances when vehicles drove into the closed portion of work zone.

“It’s important that we do everything we can to not only ensure New York’s roads and bridges are safe for travel, but also that they are safe for those who work on them,” Pataki said at a bill signing ceremony in Binghamton.

The state police have for several years targeted motorists speeding through work zones.

During 2004’s Operation Hard Hat, in which hidden troopers use radar to record speeds in construction areas and radio information to chase cars, state police issued 1,648 tickets.

In 2003, 42,643 people were killed in the estimated 6.3 million police-reported motor vehicle traffic crashes, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Another 2.9 million people were injured.

The number of persons killed in motor vehicle crashes nationwide in work zones rose from 872 in 1999 to 1,028 in 2003, according to the Federal Highway Administration.