“Operation Hardhat” and Automated Work Zone Speed Enforcement Program to Ramp Up in the Coming Weeks in an Effort to Protect Highway Workers.

Governor Kathy Hochul today announced that April 15 to 19 is Work Zone Awareness Week across New York State with the national theme or “Work Zones are temporary. Actions behind the wheel can last forever.” At the Governor’s direction, state landmarks will be lit in orange on Wednesday, April 17 in honor of highway workers across New York State. The Automated Work Zone Speed Enforcement program operated by the State Department of Transportation and the Thruway Authority will continue this construction season as will “Operation Hardhat,” a work zone enforcement program carried out by state and local law enforcement agencies. Additionally, the State Department of Transportation will be launching a public awareness campaign on social media to raise awareness of the dangers highway workers face every day in work zones. Video available here.

“New Yorkers owe our highway workers a debt of gratitude for the work that they do to keep our roadways functional and safe,” Governor Hochul said. “The easiest way we can thank them is by driving safely through work zones and giving them plenty of space, making sure that they get home to their families everyday. I call on all New Yorkers to recognize the importance of highway workers as we commemorate National Work Zone Awareness Week.”

In 2023, the State Department of Transportation experienced 214 work zone traffic intrusions while constructing capital projects or performing highway maintenance activities. Additionally, there were nearly 200 crashes in Thruway work zones, leading to 37 injuries. The majority of crashes were caused by either distracted driving, following too closely, unsafe lane change or disregarding traffic warning signs.

“Operation Hardhat” will begin again in April in an effort to enforce vehicle and traffic laws in highway work zones.  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 for speeding, cell phone usage, seat belts, failure to move over or obey traffic control devices, among other infractions.

The Automated Work Zone Speed Monitoring pilot program was established by legislation signed into law by Governor Hochul in 2021 and a technology operator for the program was selected following a competitive bidding process. Under the program, all vehicles detected violating the posted speed limit within a work zone by over an established threshold are fined. Images of the driver or contents of the vehicle will not be documented.

Fines through the pilot program are issued as follows:

  • $50 for first violation

  • $75 for second violation

  • $100 for third and subsequent violations within 18 months of the first violation

Unpaid fines may result in a vehicle registration hold where drivers will not be able to renew their registrations without first paying their fines. Owners may contest a violation within 30 days of when they received notice. As required by law, 60 percent of the funds collected by NYSDOT and the Thruway Authority through the program will supplement work zone safety projects.

Since the program was launched in the spring of 2023, there have been more than 2,760 deployments in work zones along the Thruway and roadways controlled by NYSDOT, resulting in more than 167,340 notices of liability being issued to registered vehicle owners.

Lighting of Landmarks

The landmarks to be lit in recognition of Go Orange Day on April 17 include:

  • Governor Mario M. Cuomo Bridge

  • Kosciuszko Bridge

  • The H. Carl McCall SUNY Building

  • State Education Building

  • Alfred E. Smith State Office Building

  • Niagara Falls

  • Empire State Plaza

  • One World Trade Center

  • State Fairgrounds – Main Gate & Expo Center

  • Albany International Airport Gateway

  • MTA LIRR – East End Gateway at Penn Station

  • Fairport Lift Bridge over the Erie Canal

  • Moynihan Train Hall

  • Walkway Over the Hudson State Historic Park

New York State Department of Transportation Commissioner Marie Therese Dominguez said, “The individual members of our DOT Team are the lifeblood of everything we do at the New York State Department of Transportation and their dedication inspires me to do everything in my power to protect them.  With the support of Governor Hochul, NYSDOT has initiated a number of new policies over the past few years to better protect our workers, but the traveling public has a role to play as well – during National Work Zone Awareness Week and throughout the year – put down your phones, slow down, and pay attention, especially in work zones.  Lives are literally at stake.”

New York State Thruway Authority Acting Executive Director Frank G. Hoare said, “As the Thruway Authority commences another construction season, it’s important to remember that the individuals working in work zones are not just workers but also friends, family, and neighbors. They are all part of our communities, hoping to go home safe at the end of their shift. Work zones aim to enhance safety and upgrade the roadway. Your cooperation is crucial. Please slow down, stay attentive in work zones, and together we can make a difference in saving lives.”

New York State Police Superintendent Steven G. James said, “Highways are one of the most dangerous work environments encountered by those who respond to emergencies and maintain our roadways. As the construction season begins, it is imperative for drivers to watch their speed, move over, and put down their electronic devices when they are traveling through work zones. The New York State Police remains committed to working with our law enforcement partners to create safer work zones and protect those who work along our highways and interstates.”

New York State Department of Motor Vehicles Commissioner and Chair of the Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee Mark J.F. Schroeder said, “Summer is a busy travel season on our roads, but it is also the right time to repair them. I urge all drivers to respect the workers who strive to keep our roads in top shape, to slow down in work zones and to safely move over whenever you encounter a crew doing road work.”

Associated General Contractors of New York State President and CEO Mike Elmendorf said, “National Work Zone Awareness Week is a moment to pause and focus on the importance of keeping the men and women working on our roadways safe—but, in reality, that is something we all must be doing every week and every day. The people doing that often challenging and dangerous work are out there to keep us all safe, and every driver has an obligation to do the same for them. Safety is paramount, and there is an incredibly strong partnership between the construction industry, labor and our public agency partners when it comes to safety. But, we can’t do it without the public as well. We need all drivers to remain focused and vigilant, slow down, move over and carefully obey signs and posted speed limits.  It’s not a lot to ask, and doing so will keep them and our workers safe.”

Executive Director of the New York State Laborers’ Health and Safety Trust Fund Frank Marchese, Jr. said, ““National Work Zone Awareness Week serves as a reminder for all drivers that highway work zones are inherently dangerous places to work. LIUNA members, who are also valued members of their communities, perform these jobs daily so we can easily travel to and from our desired destinations. We all owe it to the men and women of the New York State Laborers to drive slowly, safely and attentively through their work zones. Every single person on those jobsites is important to someone. Do your part to make sure they return home to those who love them.”

CSEA President Mary E. Sullivan said, “Our union joins Governor Hochul, as well as New York State’s Department of Transportation and Thruway Authority in the observance of National Work Zone Awareness Week from April 15 to April 19. This annual campaign highlights and encourages the necessity for safe driving through highway and road work zones. We should all heed this year’s theme that work zones are temporary, yet some actions behind the wheel can last forever. Our union members pride themselves in the work they do on roads and highways throughout the state, in all kinds of weather. It is all of our responsibility to use caution and common sense when driving through construction zones to ensure that the men and women who do this essential work remain safe at all times.”

Teamsters Local 456 President and Principal Officer Louis A. Picani said, “Teamsters Local 456 would like to highlight the importance of National Work Zone Safety Week, as well as the significance of continuing these educational campaigns well after Safety Week comes to a close. We urge drivers to fulfill their obligation to keep those that are working in safety zones safe, as the decisions drivers make on the roads can impact the members of their communities for a lifetime.”

Recognizing and understanding signs leading up to and within a work zone is essential for the safety of all drivers and roadside workers. Maintenance crews across the state work alongside fast-moving traffic each day, knowing their lives depend on drivers being alert, patient and cautious. It is critically important that motorists eliminate distractions, pay attention to driving and move over for workers. As construction season continues, maintenance and work crews will continue to be out on the road performing repairs and improvements to ensure roads are safe for motorists. All travelers should be prepared to reduce speeds and to be alert when passing through work zones.

To learn more about work zone safety, visit the State’s comprehensive website.


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