road work ahead sign on highway

Illinois police are blending into work zones to catch distracted drivers this week

The effort is to raise awareness for Work Zone Safety Week.

May 07, 2019 - 2:58 pm

EAST MOLINE, Ill. (KFTK) — Illinois State Police are disguising troopers as construction workers on the interstate in an effort to enforce driving safety in work zones.

District 7, in East Moline, partnered with Walsh Construction for Work-Zone Safety Week. The awareness campaign, dubbed "Operation Hard Hat" started yesterday, Monday, May 6, and will continue through Friday, May 10. During this week, state troopers are blending into work zones by swapping their usual uniform for clothes a constuction worker might wear — including hard hats — and driving unmarked vehicles.

"Our hope is the plain-clothes trooper doesn't observe any violations. That would mean drivers were operating their vehicles safely," District 7 Commander Captain Jason Dickey said in a Facebook post. "Sadly, that will probably not be the case."

Illinois State Police statement about Work Zone Safety Week
Illinois State Police/Facebook

State trooper Jason Wilson told WQAD 19 trooper cars have been hit since Jan. 1, 2019. And of those, 17 were pulled over on the side of the road. 

"It's not about writing tickets. It's not about pulling people over, it's about keeping people safe," Wilson said. 

According to the Illinois Department of Transportation, a fine for speeding in a work zone will cost a minimum of $375 for the first offense. A second offense costs at least $1,000, and if the two offenses happen within two years of each other, the driver's license is suspended for 90 days. The penalty for hitting a worker is a fine up to $10,000 and 14 years in prison.

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