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By Matthew Maddox / January 14, 2022

In Connecticut, people whose job entails that they put themselves in potentially dangerous situations will understand the inherent risks they face. This is especially true for roadside workers. Given their proximity to traffic, there is always a chance that a motor vehicle accident will cause injuries and death. This has always been the case. However, in recent years, the problem has gotten worse because of driver behaviors. Distracted driving, drowsy driving, drivers who are under the influence, speeding and recklessness are common issues. The state has taken various steps to highlight the problem, but it is not having enough of an impact. Now, it is set to install cameras in the area to compel drivers to slow down.

Pilot program set to start in 2023 will cite drivers who speed in work zones

That the state plans to take such extreme measures indicates how challenging this is. Anecdotal evidence from veteran road workers suggests that this is getting worse. One stated that vehicles are speeding with a troubling regularity even if there are workers present on the road. Work zones will have speed detectors. They will be transportable and will take pictures of the license plates of vehicles that go at least 15 mph over the speed limit for the zone. Drivers will initially receive a warning. If it happens a second time, they will be fined $75. A third time will result in a $150 fine. It will not place points on the driver’s license, nor will it impact their insurance rates.

There are concerns about privacy, but workers agree that this needs to be addressed. Statistics say how road workers are placed in jeopardy. In 2021 from the start of the year through Sept. 11, 576 work zone accidents took place. There were four serious injuries and three fatalities. Two large areas – New Haven and Hartford – are not included in these numbers making it likely that there were far more such collisions. Worker unions are in favor of this change as it could avoid accidents and make workers safer as they go about their duties.

Even with attention and vigilance, work zones can still be a hotbed for crashes

This is a positive step, but even when the cameras are installed, it is likely that drivers will continue behaving recklessly. People who perform construction, repair and maintenance on roadways can be injured and lose their lives because of a driver who is flouting the law. Their entire personal and professional lives can be upended by the lost time at work, medical expenses, long-term damage and more that comes about after an auto accident in a work zone.

The state trying to find strategies to hold drivers accountable with financial penalties and the subsequent reduction in these types of behaviors is laudable, but it might not be as effective as they hope. Construction workers are not the type to generally want to pursue legal claims after an accident. That type of work requires dedication and physical fitness. Still, when a driver is behaving irresponsibly and causes a crash, pursuing a case might be needed to make ends meet and cover for all that was lost.