Bill would hike fines for speeding in construction zones

Bill would hike fines for speeding in construction zones

Drivers beware. If you're caught speeding through a work zone in South Carolina, you could soon pay a much stiffer fine.

A bill to encourage drivers to slow down in construction zones is making its way through the state senate.

Drivers seem to pay little attention, as they zoom past workers at the Highway 17 and 707 interchange project.

It's to make those drivers wake up and slow down, that the family of 22-year-old Kenneth "Peanut" Long is pushing for the tougher law.

Long was a flagman who died in a Williamsburg County construction zone crash last year. The driver who hit him paid $300 in fines.

The SC Department of Transportation resident engineer for Horry County says there's not much more officials can do to make work zones safer, but higher fines might help.

"The fact of the matter is money talks and so maybe if doubling the penalty is going to get somebody to put the phone away or pay more attention, then I'm for it," said Anna Levy.

The Safety Director for Palmetto Paving company of Conway says one big problem is driver complacency around major projects.

"Drivers tend to get very acclimated to construction areas that have been in place for a long period of time, and the goal is really just that whenever a driver sees the orange signs, that they have to slow down," said Palmetto's Lindsay Wallace.

Peanut's Law would increase the maximum speeding fine in a work zone to $400. If an injury results, it could be up to $1,000 and 30 days in jail.

Half the money raised from the higher fines would pay for more SC Highway Patrol troopers to patrol work zones.

Levy says that would make a difference.

"Once people know that they're out there and they're watching, they tend to slow down, so I do think that's a great idea."

State Sen. Greg Hembree of North Myrtle Beach supports the bill, but says he will push for changes that would get more funding to pay for more state troopers.

Peanut's Law is being studied by a Senate subcommittee. It has not come up for a vote.