Jackson, MS — The Mississippi Department of Transportation (MDOT) will join local, state and federal transportation officials across the country in participating in National Work Zone Safety Awareness Week scheduled for March 23-27. The theme for this year is “Expect the Unexpected.”
MDOT crews perform maintenance work alongside traffic in a Simpson County work zone.
Work zones can present an unfamiliar situation for many people, even motorists with years of experience. Many drivers would be surprised to learn that each year approximately 85 to 90 percent of work zone related fatalities are actually motorists and their passengers. While safe and efficient work zones begin with proper planning, design and implementation, drivers must be attentive to changing roadway conditions and exercise caution as they approach and travel through a work zone.
“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 to the changing conditions,” said MDOT Executive Director Melinda McGrath. “We ask that motorists acknowledge these advance warnings, stay alert and slow down when approaching and traveling through work zones.”
The driver plays a vital role in making work zones safer for everyone, especially themselves. Driver-related factors that affect work zone crashes include speeding, distractions (such as cell phones, texting and radios), inattentive driving and aggressive driving. The most frequent work zone crash is a rear-end collision. Adequate following distance is imperative to avoiding such crashes. MDOT offers the following tips for driving safely in work zones.
- Expect the Unexpected: Normal speed limits may be reduced, traffic lanes may be changed and workers may be nearby.
- Stay Alert and Minimize Distractions: Don’t text, talk or adjust controls.
- Slow Down: Speeding is the major cause of work zone crashes.
- Don’t Tailgate: The most common work zone crash is the rear-end collision.
- Keep a Safe Distance Between Your Vehicle, Highway Workers and their Equipment: Workers and their equipment may be near the road.
- Keep up with Traffic: Maintain traffic flow and posted speeds by merging as soon as possible.
- Pay Attention to Signs: Warning signs help keep you and other drivers safe.
- Obey Road Crew Flaggers: The flagger knows what is best for traffic safety.
- Schedule Enough Time to Drive Safely: Expect delays and leave early.
- Be Patient and Stay Calm: Construction crews are working to improve the road and make your future drive better.
“It is important that motorists are aware of the men and women who put their lives on the line everyday so that we can travel safely,” said Commissioners Dick Hall, Tom King and Mike Tagert, Mississippi Transportation Commission, in a joint statement. “Work zones are their office; and like any citizen, they have families who would like to see them return home safe.”
For more information about MDOT, visit www.GoMDOT.com; follow, like and subscribe to MississippiDOT on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube. For the latest travel information, call 511 or visit www.MDOTtraffic.com. For after-hours media inquiries, call 601-359-9777 or visit http://mdot.ms.gov/portal/public_affairs.aspx.