In a recent Facebook post, the New York State Department of Transportation revealed a trick it uses to catch people who speed in work zones. The photo shows a person dressed in a reflective yellow vest and orange hard hat. To anyone passing by, he would look like another construction worker. But the truth is, he’s a cop with a radar gun.
The post reads: “Slow down, pay attention and move over in highway work zones. You might avoid a ticket and you might just save a life. Our lives depend on you.”
In 2019, there were 762 fatal accidents in work zones nationwide. While some of those who died were in vehicles, more than 130 roadside workers were killed. Such crashes were actually infrequent in New York that year, which saw just eight fatal crashes in work zones, with only four workers killed.
Perhaps enforcement played a role in keeping the state’s numbers low? Nearly 8,800 New Yorkers were ticketed for speeding in a work zone in 2019, according to data from the DMV. While that may seem like a lot, it’s just 1.3% of the total speeding tickets written statewide that year (672,925).
Work zone speeding can cost twice as much as a regular speeding ticket. Drivers receive between 3 and 11 points upon conviction, depending on how far over the limit they were caught driving. Even worse, just two convictions for a work zone speeding ticket in 18 months can result in a suspension of one’s license.
Of course, by letting the cat out of the bag, the DOT is reducing the odds that drivers will get caught speeding in work zones. But that may be the point! If New Yorkers know that cops may be hiding with radar guns to tag and ticket them, they may be more likely to slow down to avoid getting a ticket. This approach might cut back on traffic ticket revenue, but it’s likely to save a life, which is far more important.