Double Penalties Assessed
on Highway Workzones
With or Without Workers Present

By Peter Schelden
Special to the Tribune
October 1, 2003

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 passing.

"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 or more.

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 in jail.

"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 or construction.

Copyright © 2003 Daily Sparks Tribune
Used by permission

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