Senator Jerry Behn: Be safe: Road construction nears

After a brutal long, cold winter, many of us are eager to return to the outdoors. This means walkers and bicyclists have taken to Iowa’s streets.

Iowa motorists need to be aware of bicyclist and pedestrians, as well as the start of construction season. As many of you know, road construction season across Iowa occurs during the day and night.  Iowa Department of Transportation (DOT) workers will be rebuilding or improving our roadways, fixing bridges and maintaining pavement that has potholes from Iowa’s rough winter weather.

During the course of construction season, the Iowa DOT could have hundreds of work zones all across the state.   A recent video posted by Des Moines area television stations show exactly what happens when motorists do not pay attention to their surroundings. After an Iowa State Trooper pulled a vehicle over along the side of the road, the dashboard camera shows a pick-up truck flying through the air between the squad car and vehicle involved in the traffic stop. The accident is a result of a pick-up getting hit from behind because the motorist did not slow down or drive cautiously past the trooper along the side of the road. Though no one was seriously injured, the potentially life-threatening accident demonstrates how motorists must pay close attention to their surroundings at all times during the warm weather months.

Driving through construction zones, motorists must obey posted speed limits and other signs in the work area.  Drivers also should be aware that traffic fines for moving violations are at least double in those work zones.

Under law, the penalties for speeding in a work zone are:

• $150 for up to 10 miles per hour over the posted speed limit.

• $300 for speeds from 11 through 20 miles per hour over the posted speed limit.

• $500 for speeds from 21 through 25 miles per hour over the posted speed limit.

• $1,000 for speeds in excess of 25 miles per hour over the posted speed limit.

The DOT maintains a variety of ways to track road construction across the state.  On its website, there is a plethora of information regarding roads, construction site locations, and the pace at which traffic around those sites is moving.   If drivers need more information they can call 511 or 1-800-288-1047.  Motorists also can sign up for Twitter and mobile phone updates.