To Stop Reckless Drivers, Save Lives
City Department of Transportation (DOT) Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan announced the launch of Zone Watch, a new initiative to mount mobile cameras to equipment to better document and deter reckless driving through designated work zones.
As noted, the introduction of the program was part of the agency’s ongoing efforts to enhance safety for everyone using the streets and in conjunction with National Work Zone Awareness Week, which was ob- served between Apr. 15-19. The cameras, which would be connected to DVRs, would record footage that could be used as additional evidentiary support for work zone intrusions.
This low-cost application of technology aims to enhance safety for workers, drivers and their passengers. In fact, 85 percent of those killed in work zones are motorists or passengers. This new program builds on DOT’s partnership with elected leaders for legislation creating stiffer penalties for motorists driving recklessly through work zones.
Zone Watch also follows DOT’s safety education efforts and ad campaign for awareness that work zones are work places for transportation professionals and to encourage motorist to drive with care around them.
“DOT crews keep New Yorkers moving forward year-round by maintaining streets and bridges so they are safer and work better for everyone,” said Sadik-Khan. “Dangerous driving puts everyone on the road at risk, so slowing down and respecting work zones saves lives.”
As part of Zone Watch, the DOT is attaching mobile video cameras to equipment in work zones such as trucks, attenuators and variable message signs to record activity at the approach and alongside work zones. The agency also will station speed boards at the start of work zones to remind motorists of their speed. Clear signs will be posted at the start and around work zone to alert motorists that the area is being monitored by video.
The cameras would transmit video footage to recording devices and also wirelessly so it can be viewed by supervisors onsite and remotely, if needed.
On the legislative front, the DOT is working with elected officials to strengthen laws to better protect workers. The city is proposing legislation to amend the penal law to make assault of an on-duty DOT employee a felony, awarding DOT crews the same protections as police officers, firefighters, emergency medical technicians and traffic enforcement agents.
Additionally, the proposed bill would establish a penalty for intruding into an active work zone, with stiff fines and the possibility of serving jail time. The city also supports amendments by Assemblyman Brian Kavanagh and State Sen. Daniel Squadron to the Hayley and Diego law that would add highway workers to the list of vulnerable roadway users, allowing new enforcement tools should a highway worker be injured by reckless driving.
State Sen. Diane Savino also is sponsoring legislation that would create the crimes of vehicular assault and vehicular manslaughter in the first and second degrees in active work zones throughout New York.
Roughly one work zone fatality occurs every 15 hours nationally. In New York City, nearly two dozen city DOT workers have been injured in work zone incidents since 2009 and seven employees died from crashes in work zones during the past two decades. In 2005, city DOT roadway repairer Nicholas (“Nicky”) Antico sustained fatal injuries after a motorist sped through his work zone, striking him and two of his co-workers. The vehicle left the scene of the accident, and while the motorist later came forward, this highlights the benefit of using technology such as cameras to better document workzone incidents.
Information about DOT’s ongoing efforts to enhance safety on New York City’s streets, roadways and bridges can be found at www.nyc.gov/dot.