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Cullerton calls for higher fines on roadway fatalities

tc roadconst 041119 SPRINGFIELD – As Illinois kicks off the road construction season, drivers should take great care to look out for the safety of construction workers.

State Senator Tom Cullerton (D-Villa Park) passed Senate Bill 1496 this week, which would increase the maximum penalty for hitting a construction worker to $25,000 from the current $10,000 fine.

“Distracted drivers are a major problem in Illinois,” Cullerton said. “As we start the construction season, it is imperative that we take every necessary step to deter drivers from taking their eyes off the road.”

Cullerton filed Senate Bill 1496 in response to an accident in which Bartlett resident Frank Caputo, a flagger, was struck and killed while working on the Tri-State Tollway near O'Hare International Airport.

Caputo was working construction near Rosemont around 10 p.m. In September 2018, when a car drove into the closed lanes and fatally injured him.

“I made a pledge to honor Frank Caputo by finding ways to keep his fellow workers safe,” Cullerton said. “While a fine won’t physically stop a crash, we believe raising it will send a message to Illinois drivers about the severity of this problem.”

April 8 to 12 marks Work Zone Awareness Week in Illinois. Cullerton stresses the importance of drivers remembering the need to drive carefully, for themselves and those sharing the roads with them.

“Driving recklessly through construction zones to shave off a few minutes of your travel time can end up being the difference between life and death,” Cullerton said. “Our road construction workers are working day and night to improve our state’s infrastructure. It’s our job to drive responsibly and respectfully to prevent tragedies.”

Senate Bill 1496 passed the Senate with unanimous support and now heads to the House for consideration.