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Troopers' Work-Zone Message: 'Just Say Slow'

Posted April 23, 2007
Updated April 24, 2007

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— The barrels and cones, Jersey barriers, and workers’ safety vests look pretty familiar, but there's something a little different in interstate highway construction zone these days.
It has blue and red flashing lights, a siren, and a person wearing a gray shirt and a silver shield inside.

North Carolina State Highway Patrol troopers Monday began looking for work-zone speeders, a project they called Operation Drive Smart. Their first Triangle target is the Interstate 40 work zone for the Clayton Bypass at the Wake-Johnston county line.

They also are going to be on I-95 in Cumberland and Robeson counties, they said.

The state Department of Transportation says that in 2005, the last year for which complete statistics are available, 1,500 were hurt in work-zone crashes and 30 people died. The Highway Patrol says lead-footed, reckless drivers cause the trouble.

People are traveling too fast, driving recklessly. The signs are there to warn them: You are approaching a work zone, you need to slow down. Some people obey those signs, some people don't. So, that's why we have Operation Drive Smart,” said Lt. Everett Clendenin, a spokesman for the Highway Patrol.

Drivers will see some familiar sights during the enforcement campaign – the troopers’ black-and-silver Ford Crown Victorias. They also may see something new — unmarked Dodge Chargers.

“We blend right in. I can just ride through the work zone, just get in the right-hand lane and I just take my time and people will come up and pass me. They don't pay attention to this being a patrol car at all until they see the blue lights come on. It's a little too late then,” said Trooper D.L. Mobely.

In addition to the dangers for other drivers and themselves, dangerous drivers pose a risk to the people who try hard not to blend into the background —construction workers.

Rick Williams, a DOT worker, just missed being crushed by a speeding car in an I-95 work zone not long ago.

“Right before he got to us, he let off his brakes and straightened up and he went right by us, missed us by less than a foot,” Williams said.

If the need for safety and savings lines isn’t enough to persuade drivers, there is a financial incentive. The fine and the court costs for speeding in a work zone total $360.


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  • Derrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr Apr 24, 2007

    El, it's the fact that your email address is the same. Come on, use some common sense.

  • TAO Apr 24, 2007

    What makes you think that I'm that guy? The fact that I can type correctly too, and avoid using lazy abbreviations like "b/c"? Or maybe because I took the same side?

  • wakeraised Apr 24, 2007

    To edits I would like for you to know that I decided my self at 16 and I am 27 now that I was not ready for my license. My Mother had to ground me before I would go and get it, I was about to enter my senior year when I finally received it. I knew driving was a privilege/responsibility. I did not ever think I had the right to drive, your daughter will come around.

    I stand by Let'em work Let'em Live!!!!! I have never had a speeding ticket and do not plan on risking my life or anyone elses just to get somewhere a litte early.

  • Derrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr Apr 24, 2007

    Angry changed his name to El Gracho. Come on angry offender, be proud of who you are!! Don't change your name b/c you got beat up in the boards earlier!


    OK how many of these work zones have you driven through that they were actually DOING WORK??? Also 2little2late your another reason for birth control - NOW THAT WAS EASY!!!!

  • TAO Apr 24, 2007

    "retired state trooper," you seem to have a very bad attitude towards anything questioning the efficacy of law enforcement equipment. I don't see how a rational discussion can be had with you when you so violently attack others for suggesting that the equipment relied on by law enforcement to measure speeds may have flaws.

  • retired state trooper Apr 24, 2007

    Well Well...First,I would like to respond to Mr. El Gracho's comments pertaining to the VASCAR. In over 30 yrs experience as a Trooper (NCSHP) I only lost approximately 10 cases involving the VASCAR. The Judges and the D.A.'s in our District knew how the VASCAR operated & They would much rather try a VASCAR case in court. Could it have been your skills testifying in Court and explaining your actions to a jury and your ability to explain the techniques used in operating the VASCAR. Anyone certified in this type of equipment knows from day 1 ... The error is in favor of the violator. Could it be something happened in your career as to why you identified yourself as "Ex Cop," rather than "Retired Police Officer." Just Wondering :) Secondly, Do you really think the Troopers, local officers and Deputies don't investigate fatal accidents involving Corvettes, Mustangs, Camaros, etc. If you were an officer you must have been assigned to a Parking Lot for violations. Come on now!

  • BEACH Apr 24, 2007

    EVERYONE should slow down in any work zone. You might be saving
    your life or someelse. Yes we all speed at times and yes we
    deserve to get caught ? HOWEVER what gets me in a HP or Sheriff
    running at least 10 miles over limit but no lights on, I think
    maybe someone forgot to tell them the rules. We all should obey
    the limit no matter who.

  • 2little2late Apr 24, 2007

    if you speed to any great extent, fast enough and often enough, odds are you're going to get caught at some point...be careful when and where and how much you speed

  • TAO Apr 24, 2007

    Looking back through these comments here, I see that there are a lot of people, including "retired state trooper," that seem to take an unrealistic view of how things work on the road. Being an ex-cop doesn't mean you know everything, after all. Radar detectors have been independently tested and proven to work very well, but not necessarily against laser and POP radar, though both of those are easy to beat in court. VASCAR is practically useless because it is so easy to beat in court, therefore it is not used very often; it is error-prone and measures average instead of actual speed. Good old speedometer pacing is about as close to unbeatable as it gets, but as the "angry" poster said, speedometer pacing can be beaten by watching the rear-view mirrors. It's a cat-and-mouse game, and usually the people who stop paying attention to the road and cars around them are the ones that end up with a pink slip in their hands. Don't think for a minute that police speed detection is "unbeatable.