LANSING, Mich. — Sen. Mark E. Huizenga on Tuesday sponsored legislation to protect road workers by clarifying the legal definition of a “work zone” on Michigan roads and highways.
“Many drivers in Michigan are confused about when a construction area is considered an active work zone, and that confusion has recently led to difficulty in enforcing these critical protections for our road maintenance crews,” said Huizenga, R-Walker. “I partnered with MDOT officials and the private sector to draft this reform to clear up pre-existing law and set straightforward parameters on what is legally considered a work zone.
“This measure would go a long way to increasing worker safety and legal enforcement of the protective zones while also providing more certainty for drivers about where a construction zone begins and ends.”
Senate Bill 943 would update and clarify the current definitional limitations of a “work zone” within the Michigan Vehicle Code. It would ensure that situations where “work zone begins” and “end road work” signs are not available, such as utility work, can still meet the criteria of a work zone. At these sites, a work zone would start at a sign indicating its beginning and end at the last temporary traffic control device.
Huizenga said the need for the change arose from the settlement of The People of the State of Michigan v. Kara Jean Boersma, in which criminal charges against the defendant were waived due to current language not explicitly stating that one worker’s presence meets the criteria of a present work crew. Therefore, as the incident area in the case did not contain a present work crew, it did not meet the definition of an active work zone.
“For the protection of all our road construction workers, it’s of utmost importance that this legal loophole is closed,” Huizenga said.