A bill proposed by two state senators would increase fines and jail time for driving violations in construction zones in South Carolina.
“It’s common sense to take these extra steps for safety,” Sen. Paul Campbell of Goose Creek told The Post and Courier of Charleston.
Campbell and Sen. Larry Grooms of Bonneau, the chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee, plan to introduce the measure known as the “speeding in construction zones” law and predict it will pass next year.
Currently, those ticketed for speeding in construction zones face a maximum fine of $200 and 30 days in jail.
But under the proposal, the fine would be increased to a minimum $250 and if someone in a vehicle is hurt, the offender could be sentenced to a $1,000 fine and 30 days in jail.
Under the bill, accidents that injure constriction workers would carry a maximum fine of $5,000 and two years in prison. A driver who kills a highway construction worker could be fined $10,000 and sent to prison for three years.
Any offense in a construction zone would add a two-point penalty to the offender’s license.
The South Carolina Highway Patrol has been working with the state Transportation Department to reduce work zone accidents.
In 2006, a federal grant allowed troopers to be assigned to the bigger construction sites, resulting in a drop in the number of accidents from 1,544 in 2005 to 472 in 2008. Officials say a patrol car does more to slow motorists than warning cones and signs.
But the highway patrol says the number of work zone accidents has been climbing, reaching 1,404 last year.
“While we do not comment on the merits of proposed legislation, we are always interested in any measures that will enhance safety on our roadways and will follow this legislation closely,” the patrol’s Lt. Roger Hughes said.
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