on Highway Workzones
With or Without Workers Present
By Peter Schelden
Special to the Tribune
A traffic law takes
effect today across Nevada that imposes double penalties against motorists
speeding in construction sites whether or not workers are
The new law applies whether or not an area is fully marked as a construction
site, according to a Nevada Department of Transportation news release.
Sparks resident Richard "Skip" Daly, business manager
of Reno based Laborers' Union Local 169, was instrumental in this law's
"The whole thrust of the law," Daly said, "is to make
highways safer, to make drivers slow down and use caution. We're concerned
about people's lives."
Not all residents are happy about the new law. Sparks taxi driver and
former owner of a highway safety company Kirby Hawkins said that
the new law is too strict.
"When workers are present, everyone should slow down," Hawkins
said. "When they're not there and the road looks nice and clear,
I don't see any problem doing the [usual] speed limit."
Daly said that the new law protects drivers more than construction workers.
"When you see orange cones, you should slow down," Daly said.
"It's for your own damn good. I know nobody likes to hear that,
but four out of five workzone deaths are motorists."
Hawkins said that the new law's lax restrictions on marked construction
sites could cause problems for offending motorists.
"It should be marked," Hawkins said. "Boy, that would
just upset the hell out of me if the road was nice and clear and a police
officer fined me double in a work area."
Daly said that construction workers are still supposed to put the sign
up, but the Nevada law reads that an otherwise offending motorist "is
not relieved of any criminal liability because signs are not erected."
This provision to the law applies only if the violating motorist injures
a highway construction worker or causes property damage equal to $1,000
The new law allows for stronger penalties for driving offenses committed
in road construction sites. These penalties include increased fines
up to $1,000, up to 120 hours of community service, or up to six months
"One hundred and twenty hours of community service, that's three
full weeks of work," Daly said of the new, tougher penalties.
The new law also requires mandatory prosecution of any motorist who
injures a highway construction worker while performing highway maintenance
Copyright © 2003 Daily Sparks Tribune
Used by permission
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