Road construction around the Lake Area and Missouri is ramping up, and MoDOT is now in a partnership with the Missouri State Highway Patrol to make work zones safer.
“They will be enforcing the speed limits, they will be enforcing other violations….so that we can improve that safety and hopefully avoid some of these dangerous trends we are seeing” says Traffic Engineer Nicole Hood.
She tells KRMS News there’s an increase in work zone deaths and other accidents that cause injuries and damage “there are people out there working and we’re really seeing a growing concern with the work zones, specifically with speeding.”
She says drivers not wearing seatbelts are also adding to the danger “the other area is just driving sober. Unfortunately we have a lot of impaired drivers out there.”
Monday marks the beginning of Work Zone Awareness Week.
It continues through Friday.
Hood will appear as a guest Monday during the KRMS Morning Magazine.
MoDOT’s plea to drivers: ‘Work with us’ this construction season
Work Zone Awareness Week is April 26-30
JEFFERSON CITY – More buffer truck crashes than ever before… Dozens of work zone fatalities… This is how Missouri will remember its 2020 construction season. And that’s why the Missouri Department of Transportation is pleading with drivers to help turn the tide in 2021. Motorists are urged to make smart, safe driving choices behind the wheel as part of National Work Zone Awareness Week, April 26-30.
In 2020, MoDOT protective vehicles with truck/trailer-mounted attenuators (TMAs) were struck an unprecedented 48 times. Jack Kirtlink, a maintenance worker in MoDOT’s Northeast District, was just one of dozens of MoDOT employees hit while driving these protective vehicles in 2020. Despite signage and flashing lights, a motorist crashed into his equipment at 70 mph, and the TMA ended up underneath the driver’s truck.
Since 2018, TMA crashes have resulted in 32 injuries and one fatality. These crashes are almost always the result of a driver not paying attention and/or driving too fast for conditions.
“We need drivers to work with us,” said State Highway Safety and Traffic Engineer Nicole Hood. “Last year, 27 lives were lost in work zone crashes. It’s on all of us to step up and make smart choices behind the wheel.”
“We’ve got a job to do, and we want everyone to be safe. Just pay attention and slow down, that’s all we’re asking,” said Kirtlink.
There are two simple actions every driver can take to help protect themselves and those working along the highways: buckle up and put the phone down. In 2020, 74% of vehicle occupant fatalities in work zones were not wearing a seat belt. Distracted driving remains a leading contributor to work zone crashes.
Speeding is also a growing concern in work zones. MoDOT is partnering with the Missouri State Highway Patrol for ‘OPERATION PROTECT’ to actively enforce speed limits in some of the state’s top work zones throughout the construction season.
To help keep workers and motorists safe, MoDOT has piloted the use of real-time digital alerts (Makeway Safety and HAAS Alert) on emergency response trucks and is expanding the installation of HAAS Alert to more than 500 vehicles, including all emergency response trucks and several mobile operation trucks. This technology enables MoDOT vehicles with emergency lights flashing to send alerts to motorists through tools such as the WAZE navigation app, giving drivers early warnings on approaching work zones.
Drivers should be aware of changing traffic conditions, observe warning signs and merge before reaching lane closures.
“You play a vital role in work zone safety,” said Hood. “Traffic can stop unexpectedly, or workers could enter the roadway. Stay alert so you know when to slow down and move over.”
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. And do your part to save lives in those work zones. Missouri’s new 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.
Maintenance workers to share their crash experiences after deadly 2020 construction season
JEFFERSON CITY – Missouri Department of Transportation employee Frank Shadwell recalls a time he was driving a truck-mounted attenuator (TMA) for a moving work zone when, in an instant, a vehicle sped into the back of his truck. Unfortunately, dozens of MoDOT employees share similar experiences—the department saw 33% more TMA crashes in 2020 than 2019, most often caused by speeding and distractions.
Shadwell and other work zone crash survivors will share their stories at a virtual news briefing to promote awareness for work zone safety during National Work Zone Awareness Week, April 26-30. Gov. Mike Parson will also join the discussion to stress the important role all Missourians play in making work zones a safer place to drive and work.
The briefing is scheduled for 9 a.m. on Monday, April 26 on the Missouri Department of Transportation’s Facebook page.
Who: Gov. Mike Parson
Patrick McKenna, Director of Missouri Department of Transportation
Col. Eric Olson, Missouri State Highway Patrol superintendent
Len Toenjes, President of Associated General Contractors of Missouri
Jack Kirtlink, MoDOT maintenance worker
Frank Shadwell, MoDOT transportation enforcement investigator
Bryce Hill and Penny Compas, Delta Companies
What: National Work Zone Awareness Week kickoff event
When: 9 a.m. Monday, April 26
Where: Missouri Department of Transportation Facebook page
Why: To raise awareness for work zone safety
For more information on work zone safety, visit www.modot.org.