Utica, NY - “But today's mission really was to focus on distracted drivers in work zones,” said Marie Therse Dominguez, New York State Department of Transportation.
The New York State Department of Transportation in partnership with the city of Utica and Utica Police Department conducted Operation Hard Hat.
The statewide campaign usually puts state troopers in highway maintenance gear to crack down on distracted driving in work zones. Today, for the first time, the operation is hyper local.
“People are distracted and they're not paying attention,” said Dominguez. “They're speeding and they're doing a whole bunch of other things and they're not paying attention to the folks that are actually working in the work zone and we have to bring awareness to this because literally we've lost lives.”
Over just a few hours, sixteen driving tickets were issues. Of the sixteen, eleven were cell phone violations.
“I know that there's a lot of construction going on and there's a lot of detours and at this point be mindful of it. It just didn't happen overnight it's been there you know what you're getting into,” said Mayor Robert Palmieri. “Be mindful of the fact that these men and women want to go home just like you do and they want to go home safely to their families.”
Around the city of Utica, there are several developmental zones.
“We’ve got some really transformative fantastic projects going on in Utica and we want to make sure that if people are out here working that there safely able to do that,” said Dominguez.
Mayor Palmieri says that this operation will continue to take place.
“I think you'll see it more frequently I think you'll see it in different areas at this point and this is not so much to issue tickets as it is to bring awareness to the drivers.”