APALACHIN, NY – New York State Police and the Department of Transportation are asking drivers to give them a brake when driving through construction zones.

Both agencies came together today for their Operation Hard Hat campaign.

It involves State Troopers dressed as construction workers taking note of people breaking the law in work zones.

They were out along Route 17 in Owego this morning, radioing ahead to troop cars to alert them of the lawbreakers.

Public Information Specialist for D-O-T Region 9 Scott Cook says distracted driving, such as people on their smart phones, has become a worse problem than speeding.

Cook says, if it is safe, pull over, and always slow down.

“The problem is that we have too many injuries and fatalities occurring to the people on the side of the road. It’s not just DOT workers, it’s first responders, it’s troopers pulling people over, it’s people who are broken down on the side of the road. All we are asking you to do, if it’s safe, move over and always slow down,” says Cook.

NewsChannel 34 was on hand as several drivers were pulled over today in the area near Apalachin.

Cook says the location holds significant meaning to members of the department as D-O-T worker Matt Howe was struck and killed by a distracted driver along the same stretch of highway 3 years ago.