New York City Department of Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan today announced the kick off for National Work Zone Awareness Week, which is being observed April 4-8, to remind motorists to drive with care around work zones to keep roadway crews safe. Each year approximately 700 people die in work zone crashes across the country. In New York City, 40 City DOT workers have been injured in work zone incidents since 1995, and six employees died from crashes in work zones since 1990. DOT has made work zone safety a priority on its legislative agenda, especially after the death of Highway Repairer Nicholas (“Nicky”) Antico, who was fatally struck by a drunken motorist speeding through a closed work zone in Staten Islandin 2005. Antico’s memory continues to be an inspiration in the Administration’s efforts to pass work zone legislation and DOT is again partnering with State Senator Diane J. Savino and Assemblyman Michael Cusick to support their proposed legislation that would create for the first time penalties for motorists who drive recklessly in work zones. Throughout the month, DOT work zone-related ads are appearing on billboards, in print and on the radio in Albanyand New York City, reiterating the importance of respecting work zones and drawing attention to the re-introduced legislation. To view the campaign, visit nyc.gov/workzonesafety. The Commissioner, Assemblyman Cusick and Councilmember James S. Oddo joined a roadway repair crew at Navesink Place and Milton Avenue in the Oakwood section of Staten Islandto discuss work zone awareness and observe a moment of silence in remembrance of those lost to work zone crashes.
“Safety is a two-way street and our laws should reflect the dangerous reality crews face each day as they maintain our roads, bridges and infrastructure to make them safe for all New Yorkers,” said Commissioner Sadik-Khan. “Work zones are sacred spaces, and the workers in them deserve the same protections as those in any office or other workplace in the city.”
“During National Work Zone Awareness Week, we should focus on legislation that will ensure that hardworking New Yorkers are not subject to unnecessary harm while doing their jobs,” said State Senator Savino. “We should also remember that this issue comes with great sacrifice, here on Staten Islandwe lost Repairer Nicholas Antico, and we need to make sure Mr. Antico’s unfortunate death was not in vain.”
“There have been too many instances where someone's reckless behavior has seriously injured or even killed road construction workers,” said Assemblyman Cusick. “This is inexcusable, and this careless conduct should be deterred with the promise of stiff penalties for offenders. That is why I sponsored A.6409, which establishes the crimes of vehicular assault and vehicular manslaughter in an active work zone. Road construction workers have the right to be safe at their job sites.”
“National Work Zone Awareness Week is important to DC 37 and its members,” said DC 37 Executive Director Lillian Roberts. “Motorists have to be aware of working people. Our members have been injured and killed on the job. We join DOT in highlighting this important safety issue.”
The proposed legislation would amend the Vehicle and Traffic Law by defining the new crime of intrusion into an active work zone as a class B misdemeanor, which will subject offenders to a $250 to $500 fine and/or a maximum sentence of three months imprisonment. The bill also amends the Penal Law by creating the new crimes of vehicular manslaughter in an active work zone in the first degree (a class B felony offense), vehicular manslaughter in an active work zone in the second degree (a class C felony offense), vehicular assault in an active work zone in the first degree (a class D felony) and vehicular assault in an active work zone in the second degree (a class E felony). Other states have passed tough penalties for drivers who cause injury or death to construction workers.
This year, DOT’s Work Zone Awareness campaign features a black-and-white image of Antico’s widow, Anna, who shares her heartfelt testimonial of losing a loved one in a work zone crash. Radio ads featuring Anna and Ed Hastings, who also lost his friend to a work zone incident, telling their stories also are airing throughout the month. DOT also produced a short video, available on YouTube, showing work zones—and the dangers they pose by unheeding motorists—from a roadway worker’s perspective.
DOT also is marking Work Zone Awareness Week by having DOT staff hand out work zone awareness information and orange bumper magnets at various locations citywide, including the Whitehall ferry terminal tomorrow from 4-6 p.m., and at various New York State Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) facilities. The DMV also will scroll electronic messages promoting work zone safety at 12 DMV locations in the city.
While National Work Zone Awareness Week is timed for one week at the start of the construction season in April, its message resonates year round. To draw attention to this timeless message, DOT installed one bright blue sign along a key highway in each borough that says, “Give Workers a Break. Drive Safely Around Work Zones.” New signs are located at Harlem River Drive and the High Bridge Overpass; the Cross Bronx Expressway near Exit 4; the West Shore Expressway at Bloomingdale Road; and the Belt Parkway near the 65th/66th Street exit ramp and at the 134th Street Conduit exit.
Information about DOT’s ongoing efforts to enhance safety on New York City’s streets, roadways and bridges can be found at nyc.gov/dot.