Recent Incidents Involving Maintenance Workers and State Police Highlight Importance of Work Zone Safety and New York's Move Over Law
Thruway Authority, NYSDOT, State Police, Emergency Personnel and Additional Roadside Workers to Hold Educational Outreach Programs Across the State on Friday, April 12 from 10 a.m. - 2 p.m.
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced a week-long effort by New York State's transportation and emergency response agencies to promote and support National Work Zone Awareness Week April 8-12. Throughout the week, staff from the Thruway Authority and State Police will visit the Thruway's 27 service areas as well as three Welcome Centers to interact with motorists and hand out educational materials regarding work zone safety and the Move Over law. At particular locations, Thruway crews will display equipment recently damaged in work zone incidents to demonstrate the dangers roadside workers face.
"In the wake of several recent tragedies on our roadways involving transportation workers and law enforcement, it is more crucial than ever that we educate motorists on the importance of obeying traffic safety laws at all times," Governor Cuomo said. "New York has zero tolerance for any driver who puts the lives of our dedicated workforce at risk, and as we support National Work Zone Awareness Week, we will make it clear that anyone who disregards these laws will be held accountable."
As construction season begins, more maintenance and work crews will be out on the road performing repairs and improvements to ensure roads are safe for motorists. All travelers should be prepared to reduce speeds and to be alert when passing through work zones. Since 2000, National Work Zone Awareness Week has been recognized by the Federal Highway Administration. This year's theme is "Drive Like You Work Here."
Recognizing and understanding signs leading up to and within a work zone is essential for the safety of all drivers and roadside workers. Motorists are reminded that fines are doubled for speeding in a work zone, and in accordance with the Work Zone Safety Act of 2005, convictions of two or more speeding violations in a work zone could result in the suspension of an individual's driver license. More work zone safety tips can be found at thruway.ny.gov.
Maintenance crews across the state work alongside fast-moving traffic each day, knowing their lives depend on drivers being alert, patient and cautious. It is critically important that motorists eliminate distractions, pay attention to driving and move over for workers.
On March 13, DOT maintenance worker Matt Howe was parked on the shoulder of Route 17 with his lights flashing, alerting motorists to a road repair crew just down the road. A tractor trailer driver who failed to move over struck Matt's truck, fatally wounding him. He left behind numerous family members and friends.
On March 26, four Thruway Authority Maintenance workers were injured when a tractor trailer entered a work zone and struck two Thruway vehicles while the workers were performing road repairs. The driver of the truck was ticketed for violating the Move Over law and several other vehicle and traffic law violations. Also in March, two New York State Troopers escaped serious injuries in separate crashes on the Thruway, which involved drivers who were ticketed for failing to move over.
Additionally, in October 2016, Thruway Authority employee Ronald Deming was fatally injured in Herkimer County after he was struck by a vehicle while assisting in the recovery of a passenger car along the shoulder of the highway. The driver was ticketed for violating the Move Over law. In 2017, the Thruway Authority released a testimonial video featuring a colleague of Ronald Deming highlighting dangers faced by New York's emergency responders.
Thruway Authority Executive Director Matthew J. Driscoll said, "Day in and day out, our roadside workers put their lives on the line in order to keep our roadways safe for all drivers. The recent death of a NYSDOT maintenance worker and four Thruway employees injured in a work zone are grave reminders of the dangers faced by our crews. We strongly urge motorists to slow down in work zones, remain alert and to move over if safe to do so. The few seconds you may save by not slowing down or moving over are not worth risking someone else's life."
State Department of Transportation Chief of Staff Todd Westhuis said, "Every day, we strive to enhance safety on our roads and bridges and that requires our workers to be out on the roads making repairs. Our workers should not have to fear for their lives when doing their jobs; it is imperative that motorists slow down and safely move over so road workers and travelers alike can get home safely each day."
DMV Acting Commissioner and Acting Chair of the Governor's Traffic Safety Committee Mark J.F. Schroeder said, "We want to ensure that our highways are as safe as possible for all users - especially for our police and emergency responders and construction and maintenance workers that risk their lives every day in order to keep all of us safe on the road. To avoid senseless and preventable tragedies, all motorists must obey the law by slowing down and moving over when they encounter emergency vehicles and maintenance crews. Please keep your attention on the road as we enter the start of the construction season - a moment of distraction can be deadly."
Acting State Police Superintendent Keith M. Corlett said, "All too often, we have witnessed the tragedies that result when motorists do not obey the posted speed limits in our highway work zones. As construction season gets underway, it is imperative for drivers to watch their speed, stay alert, and put down their electronic devices when they are traveling through work zones. Highways are one of the most dangerous work environments for law enforcement and others who respond to emergencies and maintain our roadways. We are committed to creating safer work zones and protecting those who must work along our highways and interstates. Our Troopers will be vigilant in enforcing the rules of the road and violators will be ticketed. We urge all drivers to continue to do their part by paying attention to the roadways, slowing down, and moving over when they see an emergency vehicle or maintenance crew on the shoulder of a road."
On Friday, April 12, from 10 a.m. - 2 p.m., representatives from the Thruway Authority, NYSDOT, State Police, local emergency personnel, tow operators and additional roadside workers will be promoting work zone safety and the Move Over law at the following locations along the Thruway:
Plattekill Service Area
Between exits 17 (Newburgh - I-84) and 18 (New Paltz - Rte. 299)
Capital Region Welcome Center
Between exits 21B (Coxsackie - Rte. 9W) and 21A (Berkshire Section/to Mass Pike)
Warners Service Area
Between exit 39 (Syracuse - I-690) and exit 40 (Weedsport)
Clarence Service Area
Between exit 48A (Pembroke - Rte. 77) and 49 (Depew - Rte. 78)
MOVE OVER LAW
New York's Move Over law requires motorists to drive with care, slow down, and safely move over when approaching law enforcement vehicles, fire trucks, ambulances, tow trucks, construction and maintenance vehicles that are stopped along roads across the state.
New York's Move Over law was enacted in 2011 to protect New Yorkers working along the roadway and has since been expanded to include a wider range of emergency and hazard vehicles.
New York's Move Over law was expanded in July 2016 to include volunteer firefighter and ambulance workers, previously applying only to law enforcement, emergency or hazard vehicles. The law now applies to vehicles with flashing blue, green, red, white, or amber lights. The expanded law gives law enforcement more authority to penalize violators who jeopardize the safety of those working along the highway. Motorists must exercise due care on all roads across New York State, and if it is safe to do so, move over one lane to provide adequate space for the vehicles and personnel working on the side of the road. On November 1, 2016, the Move Over law was further expanded to include sanitation vehicles such as garbage and recycling trucks.
The Governor's Traffic Safety Committee produced a Public Service Announcement in 2016 that continues to play across New York State, encouraging motorists to move over for law enforcement, highway workers, and other impacted entities.
Despite the change to the law and efforts to educate motorists, State Police continue to ticket those who violate the new law. Below are the ticket numbers for the past three years:
The Move Over law applies to both sides of the roadway, not just the shoulder on the right, and motorists caught in violation can face two points on their license and a minimum $150 fine for the first offense.