In an effort to ensure safety around construction zones, the Illinois State Police troopers went undercover by switching their police car and uniform for a truck and hard hat to blend with construction workers. In order to raise awareness for Work Zone Safety week, Illinois State Police troopers went undercover from May 6 to May 10 in some part of the state, looking to nab speeders, violators, and distracted drivers around construction zones.
Illinois State Police dress as construction workers to nab speeders https://t.co/29KpgySIpc
— Dispatch/Argus (@Dispatch_Argus) May 6, 2019
“Somebody is going to get hurt,” disguised Illinois State Trooper Ron Salier told Fox News. “That’s why we’re out here. We are trying to make a difference and educate people.”
This campaign called “Operation Hard Hat” was proposed to Illinois State Police by Walsh Construction a few weeks ago according to Trooper Jason Wilson, a safety education officer in ISP District 7. The collaboration between Walsh Constitution, the Illinois State Police, and the Illinois Department of Transportation is aimed at improving the safety of roadside construction workers.
The troopers first visually monitor drivers and then pick out the ones who are going faster and further track their speed as they pass by construction zones. “It’s not about writing tickets,” Illinois State Trooper Jason Wilson said. “It’s not about pulling people over, it’s about keeping people safe.”
“Our hope is the plain-clothes Trooper doesn’t observe any violations. That would mean drivers were operating their vehicles safely,” said District 7 Commander Captain Jason Dickey. “Sadly, that will probably not be the case.”
As per Salier, who monitored vehicles on May 6 at Interstate 74 in Moline, nine speed violators were recorded in a span of just a few minutes between Avenue of the Cities and John Deere Road. “Speeds are reduced for a reason,” Salier said, alluding to the construction zone. “It’s for themselves, the safety of the driver.”
Trooper dressed as construction worker catches speeders that pose a threat to work zones on a daily basis.
Gallery Here —> https://t.co/ntZlLodJPw
— Jessica Gallagher (@JessGallDA) May 6, 2019
Prior to this campaign, District 7 had been patrolling construction zones in squad cars. Unfortunately, violators end up adjusting their speed when they see squad cars, and when they don’t see these cars, they increase speed or end up violating traffic laws by pulling the phone out behind the wheel, WJRM reported.
Wilson further went on to emphasize that these construction workers deserve the same safety as any other employees would be given. “Reminding drivers the human element that they are actually driving through,” Wilson said. “This is a work zone. Imagine if you were at your office and somebody drove through at 80 miles an hour.” Speeding at a construction zone in Illinois can be quite a costly mistake.
Illinois State Police troopers will dress up as construction workers in some parts of the state to catch drivers who violate laws during Work Zone Safety Week. https://t.co/IENfgOdIrg
— 23 WIFR (@23WIFR) May 6, 2019
According to Blatti Law, the first offense of speeding in a construction zone results in a US$375 fine along with additional court costs. The second offense results in a US$1,000 fine along with a 90-day suspension of driver’s license.
Indeed, safety at construction zones is essential. In September 2016, Willie Nathaniel Holley, 62, a construction worker from Rock Island, was struck by a car and killed at a construction zone near Blue Grass, Iowa. The driver, Sebon Reese, from Davenport, was speeding at the construction zone and is now serving a 15-year sentence for homicide and eluding police.
Illinois State Police and Walsh Construction don’t seem to have any concrete plans after last week’s campaign but are in talks to continue ensuring further safety in these zones.