JEFFERSON CITY - Crashes with protective vehicles with truck/trailer-mounted attenuators (TMAs) increased yet again in 2021, accompanied by 17 work zone fatalities. These numbers make Missouri’s 2021 construction season one that will be unfortunately remembered. Crashes and fatalities should not be happening in work zones. The Missouri Department of Transportation is urging drivers to help reverse the trend in 2022. Motorists are urged to make smart, safe driving choices behind the wheel as part of National Work Zone Awareness Week, April 11-15.
In 2021, MoDOT TMAs were struck an unprecedented 61 times. “Any time you pass highway workers 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 depend on your focus and attention,” said MoDOT Director Patrick McKenna. “Buckle up, put your phone down, slow down and stay alert. Lives are at stake in work zones.”
Jason Smith, an assistant maintenance supervisor in MoDOT’s Northeast District, is one of many MoDOT employees closely affected by these crashes. Despite signage and flashing lights, a distracted motorist crashed into his TMA at nearly 70 mph, leaving no brake marks in its path. “That’s why we use TMAs,” said Smith. “It protects our crews, but I think it saved that driver’s life as well.”
From 2018 to 2021, these TMA crashes have resulted in 37 injuries and two fatalities. These crashes are almost always a result of drivers being distracted behind the wheel and/or driving too fast for the conditions.
“The people that work here are mothers and fathers, sons and daughters, brothers and sisters. We’re just like everyone else,” said Smith. “I know people get frustrated because life is fast. We don’t want to hold you up any more than we have to. We want you to get where you’re going, and we want to go home safe at night.”
It’s not just a courtesy to slow down and move over for these work zones—it’s the law. Be aware of changing traffic conditions, observe warning signs and merge before reaching lane closures.
To help make your travel safer, visit MoDOT’s Traveler Information Map at www.traveler.modot.org and find out what work zones you’ll encounter before you go. Be sure to do your part to save lives in those work zones. Missouri’s strategic highway safety plan, Show-Me Zero, provides information for all Missourians to help promote four key messages: buckle up, phone down, slow down, and drive sober. The plan can be viewed at www.savemolives.com.