Year-end results released for Operation Hardhat and highway worker safety measures

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New York Construction Report staff writer

Year-end results were released for several safety initiatives including a new work zone speed enforcement pilot program and a partnership between state transportation agencies in cooperation with state and local law enforcement entities.

“Safety is the top priority of the construction industry—and work zone safety is about keeping both workers and motorists safe,” said Mike Elmendorf, president and CEO at Associated General Contractors of New York State. “The construction industry and our public partners—NYSDOT, the Thruway Authority and State Police—along with organized labor, have had an unprecedented partnership in fighting for safer work zones across New York.

“We continue to appeal to drivers to slow down and pay extra attention in work zones so they and the men and women working out there all get home safely.”

Automated Work Zone Speed Monitoring Pilot Program

In April 2023, as construction season was officially kicking off across the state, an Automated Work Zone Speed Monitoring Pilot Program was launched at 20 sites operated by the New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT) and 10 on the New York State Thruway to improve speed limit compliance and slow vehicles down in work zones. More information about the pilot program can be found here.

Through November 22, 133,640 notices of liability were issued to motorists across the state, including 95,861 from work zones controlled by the State Department of Transportation and 37,779 from work zones along the New York State Thruway. Both agencies encountered motorists driving at speeds in excess of 100 miles per hour through monitored work zones.

Notices of liability by region were distributed as follows:

  • Long Island – 41,709
  • Rochester/Finger Lakes – 32,578
  • New York City – 12,330
  • Albany/Capital Region – 4,616
  • Binghamton/Southern Tier – 1,200
  • Syracuse/Central New York – 1,140
  • Poughkeepsie/Hudson Valley – 1,016
  • Buffalo/Western New York – 849
  • Hornell/Western Southern Tier – 211
  • Watertown/North Country – 113
  • Utica/Mohawk Valley – 99
  • Thruway – 37,779

Of the approximately 4.9 million vehicles that passed an automated work zone vehicle in a NYSDOT work zone during the first six months of the pilot program, less than two percent were issued violations. More than 7,500 or nine percent of all NYSDOT speed violations were repeat offenders.

Of the more than 2.3 million vehicles that passed an automated work zone vehicle in a Thruway work zone during the first six months of the pilot program, launched in May 2023, less than two percent were issued violations. During that period, the average speed in work zones with a posted 45 mph speed limit dropped from 47 mph in May to 43 mph in November.

Operation Hardhat

Under “Operation Hardhat”, State Troopers or local police officers are dressed as highway maintenance workers in active NYSDOT or Thruway work zones across New York, identifying and citing motorists for a number of violations, including disobeying flagging personnel, speeding through work zones, cell phone and seatbelt use, and/or violations of the State’s Move Over law. In 2023, 2,919 tickets were issued by State Police and participating law enforcement agencies during 84 deployments across the state.

The 2,919 tickets issued during Operation Hardhat this year included the following violations:

  • Speeding – 1,048
  • Cell Phone Usage – 499
  • Seatbelt – 353
  • Failure to Move Over – 230
  • Failure to Obey Traffic Control Device – 18
  • Unsafe Lane Change – 3
  • Failure to Obey Flagger – 1
  • Other Violations – 767

“New York’s highway construction workers keep our state moving and their safety is paramount. Work zone speed enforcement and other safety measures make a real difference for the safety of our members and give them the peace of mind that they will make it home each day,” said Teamsters Joint Council 16 President Thomas Gesualdi. “We thank Governor Hochul for prioritizing the safety of construction workers with these initiatives.”

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