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Article / AGC News

AGC News.

One of my job responsibilities is to represents the contractors and workers who build and repair Missouri’s roads and bridges. AGC of Missouri works closely with MoDOT to create safe work zones and also train our crews to work safe. But all too often, drivers ignore speed and safety guidelines, turning work zones into hazardous workplaces for our employees.

In 2016, there were 940 fatalities on Missouri’s roads and eight of those occurred within work zones. 

Between 2003 and 2010, 962 workers died in highway work zones across the U.S. That’s nearly 1,000 families who lost a father, mother, brother or sister. Out of all those worker fatalities in work-related work zone

-46% were struck by a vehicle  
-One out of 10 of those workers who died in highway work zones were flagging or performing traffic control duties – Doing their job to keep drivers safe…yet, sadly, they lost their lives.  
-Construction workers have had items thrown at them from passing cars and verbally harassed by drivers passing through the work zone.  This is often hard, hot, work complicated by significant risk to life and limb.

Distracted drivers are becoming more of a problem as we use more and more smart phones and navigation systems – and this doesn’t only apply to work zones.  In 2014, 3,179 people were killed, and 431,000 were injured in motor vehicle crashes involving distracted drivers. 

Each day in the United States, over eight people are killed and 1,161 injured in crashes that are reported to involve a using a cell phone, texting, or eating. Using in-vehicle technologies (such as navigation systems) can also be sources of distraction. While any of these distractions can endanger the driver and others, texting while driving is especially dangerous because it combines all three types of distraction.

It’s frightening to hear that at any given daylight moment across America, approximately 660,000 drivers are using cell phones or manipulating electronic devices while driving, a number that has held steady since 2010.  

According to the CDC, at 55 mph, the average text takes your eyes off the road long enough to cover a football field.   When you take your eyes off the road for a few seconds to read a text, you can miss a warning sign, break through safety cones, plow into a group of workers or crash into another car, putting both workers and other drivers in danger.

Next time you are out there driving, please think about these statistics, put down your cell phone, stay focused on your driving, obey all Work Zone speed limits and signage. And please think about those highway workers who are out there working to keep your roads safe for you and your family.  Let’s try to do the same for them.
Buckle Up.  Phone Down.

Len Toenjes is president of AGC of Missouri