State issues 444 tickets for construction zone violations

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CAPITAL REGION — The state police and other law enforcement agencies issued 444 tickets last week during an operation to crackdown on work zone violations by drivers passing around state road construction sites, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said Thursday.

Operation Hardhat details were held in almost every region of New York State in support of National Work Zone Awareness Week, which was April 26-30. The enforcement and educational efforts come as New York State continues to experience a rising number of work zone intrusions, including a crash April 27 on the Northway that critically injured a state Department of Transportation worker and injured another.

“Our highway workers do vitally important work in often hazardous conditions so that we can all get where we need to go safely and with minimal delays,” Cuomo said. “Just last week, six highway workers in state work zones were sent to the hospital as a result of work zone crashes. I applaud all those who took part in Operation Hardhat and urge motorists to slow down and drive safely in work zones.”

Of the 444 tickets, the most common was for cellphone use in a work zone — there were 135 such tickets — and 81 tickets for speeding. Failure to move over brought 47 tickets, and seatbelt use violations resulted in another 41 tickets.

There were 53 tickets issued in the Capital Region. The largest number, 161, was written in the Hudson Valley.

Under “Operation Hardhat” police officers are present within the work zones, dressed as highway maintenance workers, to identify motorists who are distracted while driving, disobey flagging personnel, speed through the work zone or violate the state’s Move Over Law, which applies to both emergency and maintenance vehicles.

The April 27 incident at a work zone on the northbound Northway in Malta occurred at a location where an Operation Hardhat detail had concluded a short time earlier.

Alexander Marin, 56, of Ballston Spa, was taken to Albany Medical Center with injuries state police described as serious. An update on his condition wasn’t available on Thursday. A second worker, Aaron T. Gagliardi, 33, of Troy, was injured while inside a DOT truck and was taken to Albany Med with non-life-threatening injuries, state police said.

Police said an 84-year-old Latham man, Sherburne Hill III, was traveling through the work zone when he collided with another northbound vehicle, then over-corrected and struck Marin. The accident remains under investigation.

DOT and state Thruway Authority officials said that 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.

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’s license.

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