Metro-East News

Police to keep close eye on work zones as construction season ends

The Illinois State Police announced Monday that it would have additional officers patrolling work zones as the construction season comes to an end. Officers will be focusing on drivers who are violating distracted driving laws.

“The purpose of the additional patrols is to ensure the safety of both the workers and the motorists traveling through the work zone,” Illinois State Police Director Leo P. Schmitz said in a news release. “As the construction season comes to an end, we want to do what we can to keep work zone related injuries from occurring. You can do your part by remembering to drop it and drive.”

Drivers must be 19 and older and use hands-free technology to use a cellphone while they are operating a vehicle in Illinois. The use of hand-held cellphones, texting or using other electronic devices while driving is against the law. Police would like drivers to avoid any distractions as they go through work zones, including eating, using navigational systems, adjusting music or doing anything else that takes your eyes off the road.

“Work zones can pose many challenges for drivers and require your undivided attention,” said Priscilla Tobias, director of the Illinois Department of Transportation’s Office of Program Development. “Studies have shown that drivers engaged in activities other than driving are up to four times more likely to be involved in a crash. Please avoid distractions at all times and pay extra attention as well to first responders and maintenance vehicles working to keep our roads safe for everyone.”

Distracted driving is one of the most common factors related to fatal traffic crashes, the others being speeding, driving under the influence and not wearing a seatbelt.

The extra patrols are being funded by the Illinois Department of Transportation.