Anyone who wonders why fines are double for driving violations in construction zones received a ghastly example of the need for caution, surveillance and enforcement here this week. Two highway workers were killed while doing their jobs on U.S. Highway 59 south of Lawrence. Compounding the incident was the hit-and-run deportment of the driver and, we might assume, a passenger.
The accident occurred near Pleasant Grove where resurfacing work was under way. Two women in a truck were apprehended after an 11-mile chase by law enforcement officers.
Construction work of almost any kind is never fail-safe, but when highway workers are on routes that expose them to traffic, the likelihood of death and injury rises sharply. That means people driving through such areas must heed traffic signs and be particularly careful.
During the recent reconstruction of Kasold Drive in Lawrence, 20 mph speed limits were imposed in work zones, and local police were firm in their enforcement. But open highway work where the two victims were hit Tuesday is even more perilous. No matter how careful workers might be, they are at the mercy of careless drivers who consider the limitations an inconvenience.
Law enforcement officers cannot be everywhere, as the Lawrence police seemed to be for drivers fined for violations along Kasold. The burden is on drivers to be good citizens and be concerned about the safety of those outside their vehicles.
Maybe it's time to triple fines for violations in construction zones. Certainly those drivers should receive no sympathy.
Bad behavior must have led to the tragedy here Tuesday. Two men trying to do a job are dead because somebody chose to disregard traffic control efforts. If the alleged violators are guilty, then the punishment should be as harsh as the law allows.