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work zone safetyMarch 23-27, 2015 is Work Zone Safety Awareness week in Missouri and across the U.S. Construction and road work is very dangerous. Imagine using heavy machinery or being in an earthen hole as cars and trucks are whizzing by at 65+ miles an hour. The risk of injury on the job increases exponentially. Many think work zone safety just means reducing your speed. That can significantly help reduce the chance of causing or being involved in an accident, but there is much more you can do to ensure work zone safety.

Disregard for work zone safety contributed to 35 deaths from 2009-2011

MoDot has worked tirelessly to gain more exposure regarding work zone safety and the public. Workers are extremely careful, but often still encounter risky and dangerous situations due to the carelessness of commuters. In past years, there have been several casualties in Missouri.

Work Zone Casualties
YearFatalitiesDisabling Injuries

Work zone crashes are largely caused by inattentive drivers. There are several contributing factors that can increase the chance you will be involved in a work zone crash. Work zone safety can be achieved by avoiding the following behaviors:

  1. Following too closely
  2. Distracted driving
  3. Improper lane use
  4. Failure to yield
  5. Speeding

Texting and driving is one of the biggest threats to work zone safety. Studies show that the average text takes about 5 seconds to read. If you are traveling 55 mph, you will travel approximately the length of a football field while you are reading that text. That is 300 feet, essentially being driven while blindfolded. The best way to avoid a work zone crash is to not text and drive. You can also keep the following things in mind in regards to work zone safety:

  • Buckle Up
  • Stay Alert
  • Follow Signs
  • Expect the Unexpected
  • Pay Attention
  • Be Patient
  • Don’t Speed
  • Don’t Drink and Drive
  • Be Nice!

Failure to practice work zone safety could land you in hot water

Missouri’s Hit a Worker Law carries severe penalties. If you hit a worker, you could face a $10,000 fine and loss of your license for one year. In addition to these penalties, you could also be charged with additional crimes such as Endangerment of a Highway Worker and Aggravated Endangerment of a Highway Worker. Additionally, if you are charged with a subsequent moving violation you will face an extra $250 fine in addition to the original fine, and an additional $300 in fines for any violation after that. The “Move Over – Slow Down” law also applies to highway vehicles with flashing amber and white lights. They should be given the same courtesy as an emergency worker on the shoulder. To ensure work zone safety, move at least one lane over, if possible, and at least reduce your speed to the posted limit or lower.

The best way to practice work zone safety is to manage your speed, space and stress. Follow the posted speed limits and do not resume normal speed limits until you are positive you have cleared the work zone. Make sure to give yourself ample following distance, do not pass on the shoulder and try to abstain from brake-checking tailgaters. Most importantly, keep calm and expect delays in work zones. You can increase your work zone safety by checking the MoDot traveler information map. If you check this map before heading out on your journey, you may be able to avoid work zones altogether, making your commute more enjoyable and stress-free.

Work zone safety starts with you. Don’t zone out in work zones – drive safely!