MoDOT explains dangers to crews as construction ramps up on highways

Published: Jun. 22, 2021 at 8:09 PM CDT|Updated: Jun. 22, 2021 at 8:10 PM CDT
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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - More road crews are working on U.S. 60 and U.S. 65 as construction season picks up and with those work zones comes lower speed limits.

MoDOT engineer Brad Gripka says the speed change is for both the safety of drivers and work crews because workers are close to the road and near narrow lanes.

”We wanna make sure that everyone goes home safely every night and every day,” Gripka says.

Gripka says drivers don’t often abide by the lower speed in work zones. However, he says slowing down can really make a difference.

“You’re still going to get there and you’re going to get there safely,” Gripka says. “Increasing that speed always increases the accident percentages.”

Gripka says road crews put their lives on the line daily.

“We’re out here on the road every day trying to make sure we’re getting a better product and a better roadway so everybody can go home safely every day,” Gripka says.

Sgt. Mike McClure with Missouri Highway Patrol says the purpose of lowering the speed limit is to slow traffic down and prevent accidents and injuries. However, he says drivers often don’t follow it.

“Unfortunately the rule of thumb is if a trooper or law enforcement vehicle is visible at the beginning, within that zone, that tends to slow people down,” Sgt. McClure says. “We focus our efforts in and around those areas as much as possible.”

If you do get pulled over, Sgt. McClure says it’ll cost you double what the ticket would normally be.

In Missouri, if a highway worker is injured you could pay a fine of up to $5,000. If the worker is killed, that fine jumps to a maximum of $10,000.

Sgt. McClure says it’s not just speeding that causes concern. It’s also distracted driving.

“We are in our own little world inside that vehicle and it’s very difficult for some of those people to have a defense against picking that phone up or whatever the distraction is when their main focus should be driving,” Sgt. McClure says.

Gripka says putting your phone down can be the difference between life and death.

“That’s the number one critical thing because being inattentive, being on the phone, you miss those things,” Gripka says. “You miss that worker being right beside the road and it takes that one split second of having that accident or missing somebody right beside the road.”

Gripka says it’s not just during the day that drivers need to pay attention. Crews are often out at night making repairs and that can be even more dangerous.

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