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During “Operation Hardhat” New York State Troopers wore workers’ clothing at active highway construction and work sites. The intent, which was successful, was to raise awareness of staying alert while driving through these accident-prone areas. According to the Evening Tribune, law enforcement issued 74 tickets for speeding and cellphone use offenses and an additional 38 for other violations during the operation.

Over a three-day period, ticketed motorists learned the importance of driving carefully while in work zones. Under The Empire State’s Work Zone Safety Act of 2005, speeding in a construction or work zone located on a bridge or highway earns the driver a doubled fine. Two or more work zone speeding convictions may result in a driver’s license suspension.

Distracted driving endangers the lives of road and highway workers

New York’s bridge and state road work zones were the site of 13 fatalities and more than 300 injuries in 2018. Road and bridge construction areas require drivers to pay greater attention to what is going on around them. Distractions of any sort may lead to accidents, injuries and fatalities.

The road crew member manning the “Slow-Down” flag or “Stop” sign is in a particularly dangerous spot. Because of their typical positioning at the outer edge of a work area, flaggers stand a greater chance of becoming an accident statistic. A driver distracted by a phone call or text message may not be able to slow down in time to avoid hitting a work zone flagger.

State law defines distracted driving

New York state law prohibits cellphone use while operating a motor vehicle. Drivers caught holding a cellphone up to their ear may face penalties which include a fine of up to $200 for a first-time offense. Distracted driving also includes taking pictures, recording videos and sending or reading text messages with a mobile device while operating a motor vehicle.

According to the Insurance Information Institute, 9% of all fatal crashes in 2017 resulted from distractions by drivers using mobile phone devices. Whether drivers were talking on their phones, taking pictures or texting, many of the resulting car crashes caused both serious and fatal injuries. In addition to incurring fines, distracted drivers may also be held liable for any injuries or deaths that occur.

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