According to a story in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle, a bill has been passed in the New York senate that would increase criminal penalties for drivers who kill or injure road construction workers. The bill, titled “The Work Safety Act,” was sponsored by state Senator Diane Savino, who represents Coney Island, Bensonhurst and Staten Island. The bill has moved to the assembly.
The bill would establish new penalties in the criminal code for drivers who kill or injure road construction workers. The intent is similar to that of the New York law that imposes stricter penalties for injury or killing a police officer. The proposed law has garnered support from both Republicans and Democrats in Albany. The bill is also supported by the mayor of New York, Bill de Blasio.
One Republican state senator, Marty Goldman, said that drivers who speed or drive recklessly in other ways should face the most severe penalties when their negligence causes injuries to workers in construction accidents. According to the Department of Transportation (DOT), two dozen DOT employees have suffered injuries since 2009. Another statistic shows that seven construction workers died as a result of work zone accidents in the last 20 years.
Employers also support the legislation. The managing director of the General Contractors Association of New York said, “Our workers are in harm’s way 24 hours a day building and rebuilding our roads and bridges.” Denise Richardson also noted, “And while we as an industry are constantly focused on ways to ensure [worker] safety, their safety frequently depends on something beyond our control – the motoring public obeying speed limits and traffic laws.”