New York police went undercover this month to catch speeding drivers in Westchester by posing as highway construction workers. According to CT Post, the police officers disguised themselves and then staked out work zones on I-684 in what they named “Operation Hard Hat.” The ‘operation’ was apparently successful, with almost 50 tickets issued to drivers in just a couple days. The police say the tickets issued to motorists included traffic violations from talking on the phone while driving to speeding. However, the most common citation involved a violation of New York’s “Move Over” law, which requires motorists to either move out of the lane closest to construction workers or, if that is not possible, slow their vehicle down to a crawl while passing through the work zone.
Under New York law, fines are doubled for motorists when their violation occurs in a work zone. The “work zone trap” set up by New York police in disguise is an increasingly popular way of responding to the increase in car accidents occurring in work zones. Last year, more than 700 crashes in New York occurred in a work zone. These crashes led to 329 injuries and 13 fatalities, according to CT Post. The New York Transportation Commissioner applauded the efforts by Westchester police, saying “The Success of Operation Hard Hat is imperative – it protects our transportation workers and raises awareness to the serious issue of work zone safety.”
The crackdown on motorists in work zones started in Albany and Rochester last year. In those areas, police officers issued more than 200 tickets to speeders and distracted drivers. Given the success of those initiatives and the apparent enthusiasm by local police departments, Westchester residents should expect more “Operation Hard Hats” in the near future. According to State Police Superintendent Keither M. Corlett, “Distracted driving and excessive speeds are unnecessary dangers that both law enforcement officers and highway workers now face while working to keep the traveling public safe.” These consequences are now more likely to include fine that cost lawbreakers twice as much.