A NYC Department of Transportation (DOT) worker performing routine resurfacing work in Manhattan was injured last night when a motorist ignored safety personnel and attempted to drive through a closed work zone on West 23rd Street and 7th Avenue, striking a worker and sending him to the hospital with minor injuries.
"A work zone is a workplace for our transportation professionals, and they should have the same protections as those in any office or other workplace in the city," said DOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan. "Our laws should reflect the dangerous reality our workers face each day."
Work zone safety is a priority for DOT, particularly following the 2005 death of DOT worker Nicky Antico, who was killed by a driver who sped through Nicky's closed work site on Staten Island. To address this dangerous situation, DOT is calling for Albany to pass legislation sponsored by state Sen. Diane Savino and Assemblyman Michael Cusick, which 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. Currently, motorists who enter a work zone cannot be cited for any infraction. 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.
Nationally, over 700 people are killed in work zone crashes each year. In 2008, there were six fatalities in work zone incidents in New York State.