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JEFFERSON CITY – Warmer weather equals the start of a busy season of construction and maintenance work on Missouri’s roads and bridges. The Missouri Department of Transportation reminds motorists of the importance of driving safely through work zones with the observance of National Work Zone Awareness Week, April 11-15. #NWZAW2016 #ORANGEFORSAFETY
Most motorists start to merge as soon as they see warning signs and learn which lane ahead is closed. When the highway is not heavily congested and traffic is able to move at the speed limit, it is best to merge early into the open lane. However, in dense, slow moving traffic, the open lane fills quickly and can back up for miles.
“Research shows driver frustration decreases and traffic moves more smoothly when motorists use both lanes and then alternate merging every other vehicle in "zipper" fashion into the open lane,” said MoDOT Chief Engineer Ed Hassinger. “Using both lanes and merging like a zipper can reduce congestion up to 40 percent!”
The top five contributing circumstances for work zone crashes in 2015 continue to be following too closely, inattention, changing lanes, failed to yield, and driving too fast for conditions. Motorists are required by the 2012 ‘Move Over’ law to slow down or change lanes when approaching law enforcement, emergency response vehicles and MoDOT vehicles parked on the side of the road or in a lane.
Missouri interstates and major roads will have numerous work zones through the fall. Interstate 44 and Interstate 70 will each have more than a dozen work zones across the state. Many of these work zones are nighttime lane closures, but there are 17 major work zones expected to cause traffic delays on interstates and some major roads this year.
“Please pay attention and drive safely in work zones. Wait to merge and take turns with the other drivers on the road to reduce your delay time in work zones,” said Hassinger. “We want you and our workers to make it home safe every day.”
Work zone safety is a serious matter. Check out these current statistics:
- In 2015 eight people were killed in work zone crashes on state system routes and an additional one on the local system, for a total of nine fatalities.
- Between 2010 and 2015, 54 people were killed in work zone crashes on state system routes and an additional seven on the local system, for a total of 61 fatalities
- Between 2010 and 2015, 3,222 people were injured in Missouri work zones on state system routes and an additional 908 on the local system, for a total of 4,130 injuries.
- Since 2000, 16 MoDOT employees have been killed in the line of duty.
- The best defense in a work zone crash, or any crash, is a seat belt. In 2015, 63 percent of vehicle occupant fatalities were not wearing a seat belt.
To help make your travel safer, visit MoDOT’s Traveler Information map at www.traveler.modot.org/map and find out what work zones you’ll encounter before you go. Motorists can comment on the quality of MoDOT’s work zones with an online customer survey at http://www.modot.org/workzones/Comments.htm.
Editor’s Note: The list of the top traffic impacting work zones for 2016 and for MoDOT’s work zone public service announcement is available at http://www.modot.org/workzones/index.htm