JEFFERSON CITY – The start of spring signals the start of a busy season of construction and maintenance work on Missouri’s nearly 34,000 miles of state 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 3-7. #ORANGEFORSAFETY
Motorists are reminded to slow down, put their phone down and pay attention as they drive past work zones. Not all work zones look alike. Work zones can be moving operations, such as striping, patching or mowing. They can also be short term, temporary lane closures to make quick repairs or remove debris from the roadway.
Driver inattention was the number one cause of work zone crashes last year. The average text takes five seconds to read. Traveling at 55 mph, you will travel more than the length of a football field—blindfolded. MoDOT’s slow moving maintenance operations move as slow as 10 mph and if you aren’t paying attention to the road, you will come up on the closed lane very quickly.
“You are driving two tons of steel. It’s hard to do more than one thing at a time so focus on the road,” said MoDOT Chief Engineer Ed Hassinger. “Put your phone down and make work zones no phone zones.”
Any time highway workers are present on a Missouri roadway – whether it’s a long term lane closure, a moving operation, or shoulder work – your safety and the safety of those workers depends on drivers’ focus and attention. Since 2012, the state Slow Down and Move Over law includes MoDOT vehicles parked with amber/white lights flashing. Motorists are required to slow down and change lanes when approaching MoDOT vehicles or law enforcement and emergency vehicles with lights flashing.
“The law is simple: If you see flashing lights on the side of the road, move over to give workers and emergency personnel plenty of room to stay safe,” said Hassinger. “If you can’t move over on a crowded highway, you should slow down as you pass them. 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 2016 seven people were killed in work zone crashes on state system routes and an additional one on the local system, for a total of eight fatalities.
- Between 2010 and 2016, 37 people were killed in work zone crashes on state system routes and an additional six on the local system, for a total of 43 fatalities
- Between 2010 and 2016, 2,383 people were injured in Missouri work zones on state system routes and an additional 784 on the local system, for a total of 3,167 injuries.
- Since 2000, 18 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 2016, 61 percent of vehicle occupant fatalities were not wearing a seat belt.
Missouri interstates and major roads will have numerous work zones in 2017. Although much of the work is done at night to avoid traffic, some work requires long term lane closures to replace old pavement and bridges. In 2017, there are 20 major work zones expected to cause traffic delays on interstates and other major roads across Missouri.
To help make your travel safer and to find out what work zones you’ll encounter, visit MoDOT’s Traveler Information map at www.traveler.modot.org/map 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.