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Our View: Construction guidelines for our safety

Published: Wednesday, May 1, 2013 5:30 a.m. CDT

Right on schedule, the orange and white construction signs are beginning to pop up on roads around the area.

This year, the state of Illinois plans to spend $2.24 billion on projects to repair roads and bridges around the state.

Locally, there will be work on Bethany Road between First Street and Meadow Trail and on Taylor Street near Lions Park in DeKalb; in Sycamore, Bethany will be widened between Peace and Somonauk roads. A couple of bridges, including on Five Points Road and Base Line Road, also are scheduled for repairs this year.

Road construction is necessary, but the areas where the work is done can be dangerous. Whether they encounter road construction close to home or miles away, drivers must remember to slow down and pay attention to the road, both for their sake and for the sake of construction workers.

There are special rules for driving through work zones. Drivers who violate posted work-zone speed limits can be slapped with a $375 fine for their first offense and must make a mandatory court appearance.

The work zone speed limits apply even when workers are not present.

There also are laws in place that apply to cellphones. It is illegal to talk on a phone while driving through a highway construction work zone or a school zone. Texting or surfing the Internet while driving are also illegal.

Fines for violators start at $75.

Although the fines for breaking the rules are one good reason to follow the rules, the fact is that they are there to protect drivers and their passengers as much as anyone.

Of the 19 people who died in work-zone crashes in Illinois last year, 10 of them were drivers, three were passengers in vehicles, and two were motorcyclists. Only two of those killed were construction workers, and two others were pedestrians, according to data from IDOT.

So this construction season, keep yourself safe: Remember to slow down and watch the road as you pass through construction zones.

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