Vans will crack down on speeding

By Carly Nicely

The Illinois Department of Transportation, the Illinois Tollway and the Illinois State Police have combined forces to strongly encourage drivers to slow down while entering construction zone sites and help protect the safety of construction workers and other drivers.

This system was signed into law by Gov. Rod Blagojevich last year. State troopers will set up vans equipped to photograph speeders in dangerous locations, such as construction zones and toll-booth areas.

IDOT spokesman Matt Vanover said he expects the vans to be on highways by August.

“[This system] was passed because maintenance zones are very dangerous places for workers and people driving,” Vanover said. “Everybody is used to going down highways in a certain way and a work zone can change that pattern, throwing people off sometimes.”

Vanover said the vans have a photographic system that will be mounted in the vehicle. If a driver is going through work zones while speeding, the radar in the van will trip the camera, and the system will take a photo – catching a clear image of the car, the individual driving the car, and the license plate number.

“If somebody was driving a friend’s car or a parent’s car, the owner of the car will not be fined because we will have clear footage of the identity of the driver,” Vanover said.

The state’s motivation to develop this system is not for money; it is in reaction to unnecessary deaths that occur in work-zone areas.

Vanover said there were 44 people killed in work areas in 2003, five of whom were construction workers. Last year 39 people were killed in work zones. He said there were also many more injuries reported in these zones.

Some drivers do not give the work zones the undivided attention that is needed to concentrate.

“People need to focus on driving and to not worry about the radio, their cell phones or kids in the backseat,” Vanover said. “They need to focus on driving and this system will hopefully reduce injuries and deaths.”

For a first offense, drivers will be charged $375, ISP spokesman Lincoln Hampton said. Second-time offenders are subject to a $1,000 fine, and will lose their license for 90 days. The fines will be sent to the offender by mail.

Though construction is at its most frequent in the summer, the winter months offer another kind of road hazard.

“In the winter there are a lot more accidents because of the snow but in the summertime the accidents tend to be a little more severe because of people driving faster and not worrying about the conditions of the road,” DeKalb Police Officer Tom Petit said.

According to the DeKalb Police Department, as of April 1 there had been 545 speeding tickets issued in DeKalb this year. Petit said to watch your speed when traveling along Annie Glidden Road, Sycamore Road and East Lincoln Highway.

“As a warning to the drivers many DeKalb cops use these areas to catch speeders,” Petit said.