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Hochul highlights continued success of 'Operation Hardhat' enforcement initiative to protect workers in highway work zones


Fri, Dec 2nd 2022 04:50 pm

With 3,062 traffic violations issued across state in work zones, governor reminds motorists to slow down when encountering work zones on highways

√ Initiative between state & local law enforcement, Department of Transportation and Thruway Authority aims to keep highway workers safe

Gov. Kathy Hochul announced New York State Police and local law enforcement agencies issued a record 3,062 tickets from April 1 to Nov. 17 as part of Operation Hardhat.

Through the ongoing initiative, state and local law enforcement entities have worked with the New York State Department of Transportation and the New York State Thruway Authority to crack down on work zone violations and highlight the importance of safe driving when encountering construction, maintenance, and emergency operations along state highways. This year's “Operation Hardhat” ticketed violations total eclipses last year's total of 2,336 tickets.

"Our highway maintenance workers put their safety on the line every day to keep New Yorkers moving," Hochul said. "Thank you to our partners in law enforcement for their ongoing commitment to protect our highway workers through 'Operation Hardhat,' and urge motorists across the state to obey the rules in a work zone. It's not a suggestion – it's the law – and here in New York we have zero tolerance for negligent behavior that endangers our highway work crews."

The 3,062 tickets issued during “Operation Hardhat” this year included the following violations:

  • Speeding – 1,209
  • Cell phone – 426
  • Seatbelt – 297
  • Failure to move over – 124
  • Failure to obey traffic control device – 15
  • Unsafe lane change – 9
  • Failure to obey flagger – 4
  • Other violations – 978

Other violations may include but are not limited to tickets issued for cracked windshield, headlight, inspection, exhaust, and unlicensed operation.

Violations by region were distributed as follows:

  • Long Island – 458
  • Poughkeepsie/Hudson Valley – 442
  • Thruway – 381
  • Syracuse/Central New York – 348
  • Utica/Mohawk Valley – 337
  • Albany/Capital Region – 288
  • Binghamton/Southern Tier – 229
  • Rochester/Finger Lakes – 172
  • Hornell/Western Southern Tier – 156
  • Watertown/North Country – 145
  • Buffalo/Western New York – 106

Under “Operation Hardhat,” members of state and local law enforcement agencies patrol DOT and Thruway Authority work zones to enforce work zone speed limits and ensure that motorists are obeying flagging personnel. Police officers are present within the work zones, dressed as highway maintenance workers, to identify motorists who are distracted by electronic devices while driving, disobey flagging personnel, speed through the work zone or violate the state's “Move Over Law,” which applies to both emergency and maintenance vehicles.

This effort is further highlighted every year during National Work Zone Awareness Week, which has been recognized by the Federal Highway Administration since 2000, and which took place this year from April 11-15.

At the 2021 Great New York State Fair, Hochul, DOT Commissioner Marie Therese Dominguez, and Thruway Authority Executive Director Matthew Driscoll unveiled a Highway Workers Memorial to honor transportation workers who lost their lives on the job.

A press release said, “This permanent exhibit is located just outside the midway entrance at the fairgrounds, serving as a reminder of the individuals whose necessary but dangerous work resulted in the ultimate sacrifice.

“In September, the Thruway Authority, along with Sally Deming and loved ones, dedicated and unveiled a new memorial honoring the life of Ron Deming, a 20-year veteran of the Thruway's Herkimer maintenance section. Deming was fatally struck on Oct. 28, 2016, by a vehicle while assisting in the recovery of a passenger car along the shoulder of the thruway (I-90) in Herkimer County. Since her husband's death, Sally has appeared in thruway PSAs, at numerous thruway work zone safety events, and at the unveiling of the Highway Workers Memorial at the State Fair.”

Dominguez said, "Our highway workers are the lifeblood and foundation of all that we do here at the Department of Transportation, and we remain fully committed to protecting those who ensure New York's roadways are safe and reliable for everyone. I am extremely thankful to our partners in law enforcement, whose dedication has made 'Operation Hardhat' an effective tool to help prevent tragedies in work zones across the state. I also remind all motorists to obey the rules of the road and exercise good judgment when you approach a construction zone. Slow down and put your phone down. In doing so, you respect the law, and the lives of our highway workers and their families."

Driscoll said, "As the construction season winds down, I want to thank our partners at the New York State Police, especially Troop T (thruway), for their commitment to the safety of motorists and our employees. ‘Operation Hardhat’ details protect the hard-working women and men who maintain the road and make it safer for everyone. Work zone speed limits are posted not as a suggestion; they are the law. It is everyone's responsibility to slow down and be alert while driving through a work zone. Lives depend on it."

New York State Police Acting Superintendent Steven A. Nigrelli said, "The well-being of our highway workers as they strive to improve New York's roadways must be paramount. All violations in construction zones, no matter the amplitude, put our workers at risk. Through education and enforcement campaigns like 'Operation Hardhat', we are working to ensure our highway workers can go home to their families at the end of the day. The State Police will continue their commitment to highway safety by ensuring that travelers adhere to safe driving practices in construction zones."

Hochul’s team said, “Recognizing and understanding signs leading up to and within a work zone is essential for the safety of all drivers and roadside workers. Motorists are reminded that fines are doubled for speeding in a work zone and, in accordance with the Work Zone Safety Act of 2005, convictions of two or more speeding violations in a work zone could result in the suspension of an individual's driver license. More work zone safety tips can be found at www.ny.gov/workzone.

“Maintenance crews across the state work alongside fast-moving traffic each day, knowing their lives depend on drivers being alert, patient and cautious. It is critically important that motorists eliminate distractions, pay attention to driving and move over for workers.

“Throughout construction season, maintenance and work crews are out on the road performing repairs and improvements to ensure roads are safe for motorists. All travelers should be prepared to reduce speeds and to be alert when passing through work zones.”

For real-time travel information, motorists can call 511, visit www.511NY.org or download the free 511NY app. Follow the NYS DOT on Twitter at @NYSDOT or on Facebook at facebook.com/NYSDOT.

Troopers Issue Nearly 14,100 Tickets During 2022 Thanksgiving Holiday Traffic Enforcement Period

Hochul also announced the New York State Police issued 14,063 tickets during this year's Thanksgiving traffic enforcement initiative, which targeted unsafe driving behaviors during the holiday weekend. State Troopers arrested 213 people for driving while impaired, and investigated 927 crashes – three of which included fatalities. The special traffic enforcement period, which is funded by the Governor's Traffic Safety Committee, ran from Wednesday, Nov. 23, through Sunday, Nov. 27.

"Drinking before getting behind the wheel, speeding and distracted driving are all poor choices that can have life-altering consequences," Hochul said. "I want to commend the efforts of law enforcement members who worked through the holiday period to crack down on impaired and reckless driving. Their hard work is contributing to keeping New York's roadways amongst the safest in the nation."

The State Police supplemented regular patrols statewide, including fixed sobriety checkpoints, an underage drinker initiative and the "Operation Hang Up" initiative, which targets distracted drivers by utilizing concealed identity traffic enforcement (CITE) patrol vehicles to better locate drivers talking or texting on handheld devices. 

A press release said, “These unmarked vehicles blend in with everyday traffic but are unmistakable as emergency vehicles once the emergency lighting is activated.”

Nigrelli said, "I applaud our Troopers and their dedication to keeping our roadways safe for all New Yorkers throughout the Thanksgiving holiday weekend. The results of this campaign prove that too many people get behind the wheel while intoxicated or impaired by drugs. We will not tolerate this behavior, and the women and men of the State Police will remain vigilant to remove these reckless individuals from our roadways."

Mark J.F. Schroeder, commissioner of the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles and chair of the GTSC said, "Whether it is over the woods or down the interstate to Grandma's house, or to another loved one or friend's home, keeping the roads safe and making sure you get to and from where you are going is a top priority for us. Holidays are about celebrating life, but it is important to make a plan if you have celebrated too much to get yourself home and not put others at risk on our roads. We are always glad to partner with State Police and local and county law enforcement to ensure that holiday travel goes as it should."

 As part of the enforcement, Troopers also targeted speeding and aggressive drivers across the state. Below is a sampling of the total tickets that were issued.

  • Speeding – 4,757
  • Distracted driving – 425
  • Seatbelt violations – 1,791
  • “Move Over Law” – 131




DWI Arrests

(# of persons)

Distracted Driving

Child Restraint/

Seat Belt

Move Over



(includes other violations)


Western NY







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