LANSING - Gov. Jennifer Granholm on Jan. 9 signed a legislative package that is designed to strengthen road worker safety laws.
Granholm signed into law House Bill 5089, which gives a clearer definition of "work zone" in existing laws to help distinguish accidents from felony driving incidents. Under the new law, a work zone begins with a "Work Zone Begins" sign in a road construction area and ends with "End Road Work" sign.
For work involving more than one moving vehicle, the work zone will begin with a "Begin Work Convoy" sign and end with an "End Work Convoy" sign. The new law also clearly defines work zones involving vehicles with rotating beacons or strobe lights.
In addition, House Bill 5173, which Granholm also signed, makes changes to penalties for traffic accidents that occur in highway work zones, adding as many as three points to the person's permanent driving record if convicted of killing or injuring a highway worker.
Granholm said the aim of the new law, combining the fines for speeding though a construction zone with points on the driver's record, is to compel drivers to slow down while traveling through a highway work zone.
The legislation was introduced in response to an Aug. 9, 2002, traffic accident on I-94 near Joy Road in Macomb County. A driver traveling at nearly 80 miles per hour through a highway work zone hit and killed one road construction worker while seriously injuring another. The driver was acquitted of all charges in part, prosecutors say, because Michigan's highway work zone safety laws lacked a clear definition of work zone.