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Higher Speed Limit Ushers in New Work-Zone Safety Rules

May 7th, 2014 at 7:00 am

Higher Speed Limit Ushers in New Work-Zone Safety Rules | Illinois LawThe beginning of 2014 brought a change in the speed limit posted on interstates in Illinois to 70 miles per hour from the previous limit of 65 miles per hour. In light of the increased speed limit applicable to roadways across the state of Illinois, a news outlet recently reported that extra safety measures will also apply to Illinois construction zones, including reduce-speed signs and speed-indicator posted signs.

The Effect on Work-Zone Speeds

Studies indicate that on average, a car going 70 miles per hour needs 470 feet to come to a complete stop, while cars traveling at 65 miles per hour need just 405 feet to stop safely. Heavier cars, including trucks and semi-trailers, require even more distance. The safety measures for work zones, including the signs mentioned above, are used in areas where workers are present in an effort to get drivers to pay attention and slow down.

With the new speed limit in effect for just a few months, it is hard to determine what the effect the speed limit has had on work-zone speeds. The short time the change has been in effect is only one factor; this winter’s severe weather and the cool and rainy spring have pushed construction back significantly, making it difficult to measure the overall impact of the change in speed. It is worth noting that the Illinois Department of Transportation opposed the increased speed limit due to safety concerns.

Harsher Penalties

Since 2003, fines have increased in Illinois for traffic citations, including speeding in a work zone, and crashing in a work zone causing injuries or fatalities. First time offenders of work-zone speeding will incur a fine of $375, with a $1000 fine for the second such offense, in addition to a possible license suspension for additional violations. Car accidents that result in work-zone deaths may involve felony criminal charges for reckless homicide.

Despite the increased speed limit, the posted speeds in work-zones are 55 miles per hour, and 45 miles per hour if workers are present. Photo-radar vans are one tool law enforcement uses across the state to ensure speed limits are followed in work-zones. The vans are capable of capturing images of both the driver of a vehicle and the vehicle’s license plate, record the vehicle’s speed, and post the time and date. There are signs to warn drivers that such vans are being used, and the vans are distinguishable by their markings. Troopers send tickets to offenders through certified mail.

Additional Safety Measures

The Illinois Department of Transportation continues to use electronic message boards to alert drivers of construction zones and traffic, and is exploring other ways to inform drivers of traffic patterns through technology. However, frontline flaggers remain as a basic early warning system to identify erratic drivers, get drivers’ attention, and warn of a backup in traffic or other events motorists should be aware of while approaching a work zone. The Department plans on exploring other safety measures and making changes as necessary when the effects of the higher speed limit can be more accurately measured.

If you have been charged with a traffic offense…

It is advisable to contact an attorney experienced in traffic ticket cases. Contact the attorneys at the Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley in Rolling Meadows today for a consultation. We have successful experience representing clients charged with traffic offenses ranging from speeding tickets to accident related fatalities.

 

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