Work Zone Awareness Week

Published 7:00 am Wednesday, March 25, 2015

MDOT crews perform maintenance work alongside traffic in a Simpson County work zone. Photo submitted.

MDOT crews perform maintenance work alongside traffic in a Simpson County work zone.
Photo submitted.

This week, the Mississippi Department of Transportation announced their intention to participate in the national initiative, Work Zone Awareness Week.
According to an MDOT release, the theme this year is “Expect the Unexpected.”
For even the most experienced drivers, work zones can present an unknown situation, the release states. Each year, 85 to 90 percent of the work zone related fatalities entailed motorists and their passengers.
“There are several safety features our engineers and road crews install when setting up work zones, including visual cues such as signs, orange cones and flag people that are strategically placed well in advance of the work zone and are intended to provide motorists with enough time to reach the changing conditions,” MDOT Executive Director Melinda McGrath said in the release. “We ask that motorists acknowledge these advance warnings, stay alert and slow down when approaching and traveling through work zones.”
According to the release, drivers play a crucial role in work zone safety. Factors that affect work zone crashes include speeding, distractions (cell phones, texting and radios), inattentive driving and aggressive driving. According to MDOT, the most frequent work zone crash is a rear-end collision.
“It is important that the motorists are aware of the men and women who put their lives on the line everyday so that we can travel safely,” Mississippi Transportation Commissioners Dick Hall, Tom King and Mike Tagert said jointly in the release. “Work zones are their office; and like any citizen, they have families who would like to see them return home safe.”
MDOT recommends the following tips for safe driving in work zones:
–– Expect the unexpected including reduction in speed limits, lane changes and nearby workers.
–– Stay alert and minimize distractions.
–– Slow down.
–– Don’t tailgate.
–– Keep a safe distance between vehicles, workers and their equipment.
–– Maintain traffic flow and posted speeds.
–– Pay attention to warning signs.
–– Obey road crew flaggers.
–– Expect delays.
–– Be patient and stay calm.
Ben Siebert, with the Mississippi Highway Patrol said drivers need to pay attention when they approach a work zone.
“During construction, the speed limits are lowered and our officers are out there enforcing the laws,” Siebert said. “These rules make it safer for motorists and the workers.”
Siebert also encourages drivers to be mindful that traffic can and will come to a complete stop on the interstate at any time.
“These workers risk their lives everyday,” Siebert said. “It’s very important that drivers are mindful of the workers, their equipment, uneven pavement and work zone signage.”

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