Wash. drivers endangering construction workers face stiff penalties

by: James Schugel Updated:

A woman working on a road construction project in Everett was almost hit by a car early Friday.

EVERETT, Wash. - A Washington driver who nearly hit a construction zone worker in Everett will likely face stiffer penalties because of where the crash happened.

Following an overnight crash at Highway 99 and Airport Road, police arrested 27-year-old Haley Nagel on suspicion of being under the influence of alcohol. A flagger had to dive out of the way of her car to avoid getting hit.

The worker escaped with cuts and bruises and got checked out at the hospital.

Police said the work zone was clearly marked.

Roadway construction zones have specific laws protecting workers. Work zone speeders face twice the penalties that speeders outside a zone do.

Police can slap a driver with a reckless endangerment charge if they feel the driver put workers at risk. It is considered a gross misdemeanor, and offenders' driver's licenses can be suspended for 60 days.

Police said Nagel will likely face a reckless endangerment charge.

In 2011, the latest year that numbers are available, nine people died in work zones following crashes, and more than 600 were hurt. In another 1,200 crashes, property got damaged. That is a total of more than 1,800 work zone crashes in just one year.

Officials said construction projects hit high-gear in spring. Most work zone crashes are caused by inattentive drivers, so the officials ask drivers to watch the road closely this time of year.

Nagel was jailed, accused of causing the Everett crash.