NEW YORK — Governor Andrew Cuomo announced a new measure to enhance highway worker safety.
The SLOW Act, which stands for Slow Down and Look Out for Highway Workers and Pedestrians Act, would impose tougher criminal penalties for violent actions against highway workers and increased safety measures for pedestrians and cyclists.
"Highway workers have a tough job, often having to work in rough weather and under tough circumstances keep our roads and bridges in good repair, and we need to do everything in our power to keep them safe in the field," said Cuomo. "With the SLOW Act, New York is cracking down on violent or negligent acts against highway workers, protecting their personal safety and our roadways."
Research from the past five years shows there is an escalating number of reported highway worker assaults and motorist interruptions in work zones that are established by the New York State Department of Transportation. More than 900 incidents of violence were reported towards highway workers.
Under the SLOW Act, violent action against highway workers, motor vehicle inspectors and motor carrier investigators would be an assault in the second degree, which is a class D felony. Right now, it is assault in the third degree, which is a class A misdemeanor.
The act also creates a new crime of "intrusion into an active work zone," which means no driver can enter an active work zone unless they are directed by a person in charge of traffic control or a traffic control device. This would be a class B misdemeanor and a fine of $250 to $500 and/or up to three months in jail.
The act also enhances pedestrian safety by increasing fines for drivers who cause injury to pedestrians or cyclists as a result of not exercising due care.
The fine for causing physical injury under these circumstances is increased from $500 to $1,000. The fine for a serious physical injury is increased from $750 to $1,500.