HATTIESBURG, Miss. - The following is a press release from the Mississippi Department of Transportation.
No matter where a person works there is an understood assumption that no physical harm will come to them while they are on the job. This is the nature of the work for Mississippi Department of Transportation (MDOT) maintenance and construction crews who are put directly in harm’s way every day.
“MDOT has approximately 3,400 employees statewide,” said Executive Director Melinda McGrath.
“Almost 75 percent of these employees are maintenance and construction staff who work in the field along the state’s highways, day in and day out, to ensure our roads remain in the best possible condition.”
These crews are MDOT’s backbone. Once a road or bridge project is planned, designed and constructed, it is the responsibility of these crews to maintain these structures to keep the traveling public safe.
Working alongside traffic, particularly in high volume areas, is dangerous. The road is the “office” of MDOT’s maintenance and construction crews. MDOT crews work as safe as possible, but their work environment can be unpredictable.
“Each member of our crews goes through extensive safety training before they go out into the field,” McGrath said. “They follow strict federal, state and agency guidelines to ensure they are performing their duties safely.”
Every spring, National Work Zone Awareness Week (NWZAW) is held to bring national attention to motorist and worker safety, and mobility issues in work zones. Since 1999, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) has worked with the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) and the American Traffic Safety Services Association (ATSSA) to coordinate this observance.
MDOT will join FHWA, AASHTO, ATSSA and other state departments of transportation across the country to recognize the week of April 3-7 as NWZAW 2017. In addition, MDOT will extend this week and recognize the entire month of April as Work Zone Awareness Month.
One way MDOT crews keep themselves, and motorists, safe is by setting up work zones and advance warning signs. Highway work zones are meant to protect everyone on the roadway. Highway work zones can been found throughout the state and can present new and confusing traffic patterns.
In addition to understanding how to navigate highway work zones safely, motorists can help protect highway workers by avoiding distracted driving and obeying all advance warning and posted speed limit signs. Examples of common work zones found on Mississippi highways and a complete list of tips can be found at GoMDOT.com/drivesmartms.
Regardless of the amount of training, how well a work zone is set up or the amount of advance warning, MDOT maintenance crews have no control over how vehicles move through work zones.
“Our crews put their safety on the line every time they go out into the field,” McGrath said. “Imagine if it were you or one of your loved ones on the highway, how would you want the traveling public to move through that work zone? Despite the amount of training they receive, our crews still rely on the traveling public to help them get home to their families at the end of the day.”
In an effort to drive down the number of deaths on roadways in the state, MDOT, along with national partners, has adopted the Towards Zero Deaths vision as a part of its highway safety plan. To learn more, visit GoMDOT.com/TZD to help us drive Mississippi towards zero deaths.