Drivers: Be Aware of Construction Zone Safety Rules and Penalties
Although summer is drawing to a close, road construction season is still in full swing. The Michigan Department of Transportation and the legislature take work zone safety very seriously, and thus consequences of disobeying Michigan work zone safety laws can be quite severe. The passage of Andy's Law (2008 PA 296) amended the law to impose fines as high as $7,500 for injuring or killing anyone in a work zone, or imprisonment for as long as 15 years.
Andy's Law is named for Andrew Lefko, a 19-year old who was left paralyzed after being hit while working on I-275 in Metro Detroit. Now, work zones are marked with "Work Zone Begins" and "End Road Work" signs. "Begin Work Convoy" and "End Work Convoy" signs are used for mobile crews traveling along roads as workers paint lines or patch potholes. Speed limit signs are required in work zones marked with "Work Zone Begins" signs. The law now includes penalties for driving offenses such as careless driving or speeding, which are considered civil offenses. The law also applies to criminal offenses such as reckless or drunken driving. If you are caught speeding in a work zone, the penalty is quite stringent as well. The number of points assessed on your license are as follows:
- Three (3) points for driving 10 mph or less over posted speed limit.
- Four points (4) for driving between 10 mph and 15 mph over the posted speed limit.
- Five points (5) for driving more than 15 mph over the posted speed limit.
Accumulation of points on your license will also likely increase your insurance rates, so speeding and/or reckless behavior in a work zone is not worth the risks. By following the rules of the road and keeping the following driving safety tips in mind, you will keep yourself protected as well as the workers on the road.
- Stay alert and pay attention at all times – distractions may cause you to miss stopped vehicles in the road.
- Adhere to posted speed limits within work zones, as well as before reaching them.
- Resume normal highway speeds only after you see roadway signs alerting you to the end of a work zone.
- Always maintain at least three car-lengths between yourself and other automobiles.
- Maintain a safe distance from construction equipment, workers, barriers, and parked vehicles.
- Stay calm and avoid rushing while in construction zones – expect delays and build them into your morning or afternoon commute time.
Motorists are not always to blame for the cause of injuries to construction workers. However, construction workers injured on the job are subject to different laws if they attempt to pursue a legal claim. Private citizens injured in a construction zone may bring a claim for negligence against the construction company operating the site, as well as the owner of the premises upon which construction is taking place if not a public road. Workers injured on the job are subject to workers' compensation laws except in specific circumstances. Construction delays are frustrating, but keeping calm and following all posted laws will get you through the wait safely.
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