Officials look to increase penalties after deadly work zone crashes

CHICAGO — As construction season ramps up before winter arrives in full force, it's important to be extra careful where you are driving.

Not only can you or people around you get hurt if you're not paying close attention, but leaders are also hoping to slap a hefty fine on anyone who tries to cut through work zones in order to protect the lives of workers.

There are about 4,800 work zone crashes each year. Last year, 29 people died, and this year 14 people have been killed, including subcontractor Frank Caputo, who was struck and killed near O'Hare earlier this month.

The big construction project already underway on Lake Shore Drive has traffic just inching by, and a new one is expected to start Tuesday night on the Bishop Ford at Stony Island, causing some more serious congestion. But trying to skirt around construction is not only dangerous, state officials are also hoping to make it costly.

State Sen. Tom Cullerton says his district has some of the heaviest highway and tollway traffic in the state, and people need to stop driving distracted. He says he hopes to bring up the proposal either at the next veto or the next legislative session.