FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Press Release #09-021
Contact: Seth Solomonow (212) 442-7033
Statement by Commissioner Sadik-Khan regarding DOT employees struck by cars in closed work zones
Second incident in one week underscores need for legislation protecting workers
A DOT worker performing routine resurfacing work in Brooklyn was injured today when a motorist ignored signs and safety devices and drove through a closed work zone at Avenue T and Homecrest Avenue East, striking a worker and sending him to the hospital with minor injuries. The incident was the second in a work zone in one week, following an incident in the Bronx last Wednesdays, when a motorist drove through a closed work zone at East 233 St and Boston Road, striking a roller engineer and injuring his left knee. That worker has not yet returned to duty. Though the injuries sustained in both cases are not life-threatening, they come within weeks of national Work Zone Safety Awareness Week, and they underscore the constant danger posed by motorists who drive through clearly marked work zones.
"Work zones are literally the workplaces for our traffic professionals, and the men and women who work in them deserve the same level of safety that people enjoy in any office," said Commissioner Sadik-Khan. "This issue is of particular importance to us and to Staten Island, where DOT worker Nicky Antico was killed in 2005 by a driver who recklessly sped through a closed work site. Just four weeks ago, I stood on Staten Island to announce legislation re-introduced by state Sen. Diane Savino and Assemblyman Michael Cusick to strengthen laws against drivers who intrude in work zones. These incidents show that the margin for error in a work zone is just too small, and I call on the Legislature to move quickly to make the law reflect this dangerous reality."
"How many lives are we going to risk before we pass legislation that will protect those who help keep our city running? Establishing tough penalties for those intruding into a work zone will reduce these incidents and possibly prevent tragedies, such as the accident that killed Mr. Antico," said Senator Savino.
"These unfortunate incidents are just two more examples of why this legislation must become law," said Assemblyman Cusick. "Holding people accountable for their reckless driving by creating penalties for such acts of carelessness will reduce unfortunate occurrences like this."
Work zone invasions occur about twice a month in New York City, usually without incident. In 2007, 11 people were killed in work zones in New York State, and nearly 15% of work zone fatalities nationally that year were workers on active roadway construction projects. More than 40,000 people each year are injured as a result of accidents in work zones.
In both incidents in the last week, the motorists who entered the work zone could not be cited for any infraction. The legislation, which was re-introduced earlier this month in the Senate and Assembly by Sen. Savino and Assemblyman Cusick, would strengthen the state's penal code and vehicle and traffic laws to create the crimes of vehicular assault and vehicular manslaughter in the first and second degrees in active work zones throughout the state. Additionally, under the proposed legislation, the new crime of intrusion into an active work zone would also be created, subjecting offenders to a $250 - $500 fine and/or a maximum sentence of three months imprisonment. The legislation has now been referred to the Codes Committee in each house.