Road construction accidents have been increasing during the pandemic. According to a recent article in Construction Dive, 60% of contractors reported an increase in crashes in their work zone last year.
During the lockdown as construction work was deemed essential in many States, Department of Transportation officials thought that significantly less cars on the road would provide a good opportunity for them to execute some road work without blocking and disturbing too much traffic. However, with less traffic on the road, speeding and other reckless driving behavior increased and contractors reported more crashes in highway work zones all over the country during the lockdown. In a PEW study that was released last year, many States recorded an increased in work zone crashes despite a decline in traffic in the US by 40% in April and 26% in May.
444 reckless drivers ticketed during Operation Hard Hat in NY State
State DOTs have have been deploying campaigns to increase awareness about work zone dangers as well as police operations. In New York during the National Work Zone Awareness Week in April, police officers were present in multiple road work zones dressed as workers and ticketing reckless motorists. During that week under the “Operation Hardhat” umbrella, NY police officers ticketed 444 reckless drivers in New York State. Among these tickets, 139 were for cell phone usage, 81 for speeding, 47 for failing to move over and 41 for not wearing a seatbelt. That same week, 6 road workers were injured on the job in 3 separate crashes. One of the crashes occurred at a road construction site where an “Operation Hardhat” had been held a little earlier. A reckless motorist crashed in the site and critically injured two construction workers.
While Operation Hard Hats might be a good manner for police to identify reckless behavior, visible police presence around the work site remains the best way to protect road workers from from reckless drivers.