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21 ticketed during “Operation Hardhat”

BROOME COUNTY (WBNG) — Wednesday the New York State Police and the State Department of Transportation teamed up for “Operation Hardhat.”

While summer is wrapping up, roads are still filled with work zones.

“This is the heart of the construction, and I hate to say it but the fall and winter’s coming, so really we are in a high production mode where we want to get the highway done,” said NYSDOT Region 9 Director Nicolas Choubah.

While the DOT workers are out doing their jobs, they’re risking their lives everyday.

“Work zones are inherently dangerous. You have narrow lanes, you have workers that are in arms reach of the vehicles often times, and it’s just a very dangerous thing,” said New York State Police Captain Jeffrey VanAuken.

In 2018, the DOT says there were 192 work zone intrusions in the state. This year alone, there have been three intrusions in our area.

“If you’re not paying attention, and you’re going too fast, a tragedy can occur,” said Captain VanAuken.

One of those intrusions killing DOT worker Matt Howe in Tioga County.

“The last five years it seems like the number is increasing, and that’s really a very disturbing trend,” said Choubah.

That’s why “Operation Hardhat is looking to crack down on work zone violations.

“People don’t seem to be getting the message so that’s why we’re having these initiatives to raise awareness, and get people mainly to slow down and stay off their cell phone. Because those are the two main things that are going to cause accidents in a work zone,” said Captain VanAuken.

State Trooper patrols were bumped up in an active construction zone, and some members of the force even dressed in DOT worker clothing.

State Police say 21 tickets were issued during the Broome County operation. That includes 16 cellphone violations, two tickets for failure to move over, two tickets for changing lanes unsafely, and one ticket for a seat belt violation.

Annie Flaherty

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