Law of the month

April - As road construction season begins, State Patrol reminds motorists to be especially cautious in highway work zones

With another road construction season getting underway, the Wisconsin State Patrol is asking motorists to be especially cautious when approaching and traveling through highway work zones. Work zone hazards often include narrow and shifted lanes, uneven pavements, construction workers and equipment all operating in a confined area.

“Rear-end crashes occur far too often in work zones, usually because drivers are going too fast and can’t react in time when traffic in front of them slows or stops,” said Wisconsin State Patrol Superintendent Tony Burrell. “When drivers see orange signs and construction barrels, they need to slow down, set the phone aside and focus on what’s happening ahead of them.”

Last year, there were 3,157 crashes in Wisconsin work zones resulting in 1,274 injuries and nine deaths. While workers in construction zones are vulnerable - often a few feet or less away from moving traffic - most people injured and killed in work zone crashes are motorists.

To help protect motorists and workers, state law (346.89 4m) prohibits use of hand-held electronic devices in work zones. Violations can result in a $163 citation and assessment of four demerit points. Since the law first took effect in the fall of 2016, a total of 490 traffic convictions have been entered on Wisconsin driver records for violating the law. The State Patrol offers these work zone safety tips:

  • Buckle up, be alert, plan ahead. Leave early or map out an alternate route. Find the latest road conditions and work zone news at 511 Wisconsin;

  • Eliminate distractions like eating, talking on the phone, using GPS or other electronic devices;

  • Expect the unexpected. Speed limits may be reduced, traffic lanes may be shifted, and people and vehicles may be working on or near the road;

  • Give yourself extra room. Rear-end collisions are common in work zones, so don’t tailgate;

  • Be patient. If you don’t see workers, that doesn’t mean they’re not there. Be watchful for workers and signs throughout the work zone;

  • Follow the law. When you see stopped emergency vehicles that have their warning lights activated, move over if possible or slow down.

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