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A new law went into effect August 28th that adds tougher penalties for drivers who hit workers or commit driving violations in work zones. With production assistance from Matt Petcoff who talked with MODOT's Jeff Briggs, Mike Smith has this report:
A new highway work zone law effective Aug. 28 comes with big penalties for reckless drivers. Injuring or killing a highway worker could cost $10,000, as well as a lost license for a year.
Two highway workers were killed earlier this month in work zones, as the Missouri Department of Transportation is in the midst of its busiest-ever construction season ... more than 1,000 active work zones in 2006.
"These recent tragedies remind us of the critical importance of work zone safety," said MoDOT System Management Director Don Hillis. "This new law will make work zones safer for motorists and highway workers."
The law includes the following provisions:
· Imposes a fine for killing or injuring a highway worker of up to $10,000 and loss of their license for a year.
· Creates two new crimes -- endangerment of a highway worker and aggravated endangerment of a highway worker.
· Sets a $75 fine for any person convicted of a second or subsequent moving violation within a work zone; any person convicted of a second or subsequent speeding or passing violation in a work zone will get a $300 fine.
· Expands the definition of highway worker to cover suppliers and delivery personnel.
· Repeals a sign covering and uncovering provision, so now informational signs will always remain unveiled in a work zone.
New work zone signs reflecting the penalties will appear in work zones around the state beginning Aug. 28.
Every year, motorists and highway workers are injured and killed in work zones across the country. Between 2000 and 2004, 104 motorists were killed and 5,327 motorists were injured in Missouri work zones. Since 2000, 214 MoDOT employees have been injured and seven have been killed in work zones.
"We urge Missouri motorists to Drive Smart by buckling up, slowing down, staying alert, obeying signs and never drinking and driving in work zones to Arrive Alive," Hillis said.
To find out where work zones are in your area or other work zone information, call 1-888- ASK MODOT or visit our website at www.modot.org.
Missouri Department of Transportation News Release
Aug 22nd, 2006.