Illinois Department of Transportation, Ann L. Schneider, Secretary
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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CONTACTS:
April 14, 2006 Matt Vanover (IDOT) 217-558-0517
Mike Claffey (IDOT) 312-814-3957
Marisa Kollias (IDOT) 312-814-4693
Lincoln Hampton (ISP) 312-814-8367
Rick Hector (ISP) 217-782-6637

IDOT Seeks Public Input on Traffic Safety Planning

Opens up process to determine where safety funds needed most

SPRINGFIELD - Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) Secretary Timothy W. Martin joined Illinois State Police (ISP) Director Larry Trent urging motorists to use caution and slow down in work zones as highway construction season officially kicks off for this year. IDOT and State Police are participating with the Laborer’s International Union in observing National Work Zone Safety Week, which runs April 3-9.

“April is when highway construction really kicks into high gear and we need motorists to be watching out for and slowing down in our work zones,” said IDOT Secretary Timothy W. Martin. “Our goal is to protect the lives of both the many dedicated workers out there trying to improve our highways, as well as drivers and passengers traveling through work zones.”

In Illinois, there are an average of 6,700 crashes in highway work zones every year, resulting in approximately 2,800 injuries. Governor Rod R. Blagojevich convened a Work Zone Safety Task Force in the fall of 2003, which made a number of recommendations to improve highway work zone safety; including better defined and more consistent looking work zones, stiffer penalties and photo enforcement of speed limits within work zones.

“The people working on these roads are our family,” said Edward M. Smith, Vice President, Regional Manager and Assistant to the General President, Laborers International Union of North America. “We’re asking motorists to drive through work zones as if their sons and daughters, mothers and fathers are working in these areas.”

The state made progress in reducing the number of work zone fatalities in 2005, thanks in part to toughened work zone speeding fines and to a public education campaign mounted by IDOT, State Police and their highway safety partners. There were 26 fatalities in work zones in 2005, including one worker. There were 38 work zone fatalities in 2004, including two workers, and 44 such fatalities in 2003, including five workers.

“We know that driving too fast for conditions is one of the biggest contributors to crashes in general. Driving too fast in the work zones further exacerbates an already dangerous situation,” ISP Director Larry Trent said. “In the next few weeks ISP will be deploying our latest tools for bringing speed under control, our photo speed enforcement vans.”

The marked white vans are equipped with the latest in photo radar technology designed to record the speed of vehicles and to capture clear images of the driver and the license plate – regardless of the time of day or weather conditions. Tickets will be sent by certified mail to drivers within six business days. Under the toughened work zone speeding fines that took effect last year, first time offenders face a $375 fine; second time offenders face a $1,000 fine and the loss of their drivers license for 90 days.

These vans are an additional state of the art enforcement tool that will be used to help reduce fatalities in work zones. Motorists, as well as workers, are at risk when driving in work zones due to configurations that include narrower lanes, lane jogs and dips, closed shoulders and lane closures. Driving at slower speeds allows motorists more time to react to changed conditions. At least 85 percent of the fatalities in work zones involve motorists.

The vans will be staffed by specially trained State Troopers. They will be used in work zones where workers are present, beginning in Northeastern Illinois within the next few weeks and downstate later this year. Signs will be placed in project locations where photo enforcement will be occurring. The Troopers will also be responsible for court appearances for the tickets.

On Friday, April 7, IDOT and the Laborers International Union will team up to host Work Zone Safety Week events at rest areas throughout the state. Laborers and IDOT staff will provide information about the importance of slowing down in a highway work zone, enforcement and penalties. They will be at rest areas near Bloomington, Springfield, Rockford, Marion and the Metro East area from 10am-4pm.

SPRINGFIELD - Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) Secretary Timothy W. Martin announced today the Department is looking for the public’s assistance in developing the Fiscal Year 2007 Highway Safety Plan. IDOT will be hosting a series of meetings seeking public comments on traffic safety matters during April and May. IDOT’s Division of Traffic Safety (DTS) will use the public input as it determines where to spend federal highway safety dollars in the upcoming fiscal year.

“We can look at statistics, but that’s only part of this process. We need to hear what problems are important to the people who live in communities across Illinois,” said IDOT Secretary Timothy W. Martin. “What maybe a concern in Chicago may not be one in Carterville. Illinois is a diverse state and it’s important to hear what problems folks are facing throughout, so that we can get the resources to where they’re needed.”

IDOT’s Division of Traffic Safety puts together the Highway Safety Plan every year and must submit it to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration by September 1. It addresses highway safety issues and details problem areas, specific proposed countermeasures and the proposed funding levels for each. DTS will use the public comments gathered at the meetings as it develops the plan this summer, and it will become part of the state Comprehensive Highway Safety Plan.

“This is another step in the right direction for traffic safety, these plans were created in a vacuum without any public input for years,” said Becky Markwell, President of Illinois Traffic Safety Leaders. “This is a positive step for getting more people involved to make our roads safer.”

In each public hearing DTS staff will present an introduction and overview of the current Highway Safety Plan. The meeting will also feature an open session where both written and oral testimony will be accepted from community members.

The following is a complete listing of the IDOT DTS Traffic Safety Public Hearings. The doors will open at 6 p.m. and the hearings beginning at 7p.m.

April 18—Pekin
McKenzie County Building
4th and Court Streets, 3rd Floor

April 20—Springfield IDOT Headquarters/Hanley Building
2300 South Dirksen Parkway, Auditorium

April 25—Loves Park Loves Park City Hall
100 Heart Boulevard, Cafeteria

April 26—Batavia Batavia Government Center
100 North Island Avenue, City Council Chambers

May 1—Carterville
John A. Logan College
310 West Plaza Drive, Torvin Crisp Room

May 2—Fairview Heights Fairview Heights Public Library
10017 Bunkum Road, Basement

May 10—Chicago Michael Bilandic Building
160 North LaSalle

May 11—Orland Park Orland Park Civic Center
14750 Ravinia Avenue

 

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