The Missouri Department of Transportation wants to remind motorists to buckle up and put phones down. As warmer weather arrives in the region, work zones will become more common on the state’s highway system. While workers are on the job, the risk of serious and even deadly crashes rises. In fact, work zone crashes are on the rise nationwide. 16 people were killed in work zone crashes in 2017. In contrast, 8 people were killed in work zone crashes in 2016.
Len Toenjes, who is president of Associated General Contractors, said, “We’ve trained our workers on the latest safety protocols, and our job superintendents keep safety as a top priority, but we need the general public to slow down, buckle up and put their phones down. I can’t stress enough how important this is. When workers leave their homes in the morning, they want to return to their families that evening.”
Wearing your seatbelt is your best defense in the event of a car crash. “The national average for safety belt usage is 90 percent. Missouri is below that average at only 84 percent, and teens in Missouri fall even lower at 70 percent,” according to MoDOT Director of Highway Safety Bill Whitfield. “We want to see those numbers go up.” Under Missouri’s Graduated License Law, permit drivers and all passengers must wear safety belts. Of the 196 teenagers killed in traffic crashed from 2014-2016, over 74 percent of them were not buckled up. When properly used, seat belts reduce the risk of fatal injuries to front-seat passenger vehicle occupants by 45 percent and reduce the risk of moderate-to-critical injuries by 50 percent. Because there is no primary seat belt law or all-driver texting ban in Missouri, motorists are asked to personally take the challenge to Buckle Up Phone Down.
MoDOT provides the following tips for navigating work zones safely:
- Observe warning signs and merge before reaching lane closures;
- Be aware of changing traffic conditions. Traffic could slow or stop unexpectedly, traffic lanes can merge and equipment and workers can enter the roadway; and
- Be prepared to slow down. Driving too fast for the conditions is a major factor in work zone crashes.
In addition, while MoDOT will be focusing on pot hole repair, Missouri motorists are asked to report any trouble areas. MoDOT will then review the area and complete the needed repairs. The crews strive for quality repairs so that resources are not wasted on multiple repairs of the same hazards. If you come across one of MoDOT’s 300 Pothole Patrol units, slow down and give them room to work.
To report the location of potholes on state-maintained roads, MoDOT requests you use one of the following:
- Call MoDOT’s 24/7 Customer Service Center at 1-888-ASK-MODOT (888-275-6636);
- Use MoDOT’s Report a Road Concern form on the web at modot.org;
- Use your smartphone or tablet with a mobile friendly form at modot.org/roadconcern; or
- By email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
MoDOT invites you to visit the Traveler Information map at www.traveler.modot.org/map and find out what work zones you will encounter before you go. In addition, motorists can provide feedback on the quality of MoDOT’s work zones with an online customer survey at www.modot.org/workzones/comments.htm.