Work Zone Awareness Week aims to promote safety near roadway construction areas

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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. With warmer weather moving in for the Spring and summer we will start to see a lot more road construction projects.

"Our work zones are quite variable, we may have a slow moving operation, such as striping, where our folks are moving at around seven to ten miles an hour; or it could be a static work zone where we actually have a lane closed and folks have to make a traffic shift," said Travis Koestner, District Engineer for the Missouri Department of Transportation (MODOT) Southwest District.

Although MODOT works hard to give advanced notice to the public and use plenty of signs, some people still don't pay attention to changes in the normal traffic pattern.

"You can see them, they'll be on their phones, they'll be distracted, they'll be talking to their kids in the back, it could be anything," said MODOT maintenance worker Clint Noe.

In 2016 seven people in Missouri died in traffic crashes that occurred inside Work Zones.

"It may be a matter of feet, sometimes when we are working right on that line we may be inches [away from drivers], so safely move over as far as you can and slow, down, pay attention and get out of our zone so we can all go home safe," said Noe.

That message is being emphasized in a public awareness campaign during the first week of April.

"Work Zone awareness week is April 3 - 7th and we do this every year. It's really just to highlight to folks that this is the start of our construction season," said Koestner.

On Monday representatives from MODOT, the Highway Patrol, and local law enforcement will hold a kickoff event in Springfield to help spread the word about the week and inform people about major work zones in the Ozarks.

"Distracted driving is the number one cause of crashes in Missouri so we really just want folks to pay attention, put their phones down, buckle up, and really just pay attention to those work zones that will be ramping up," Koestner explained.

Today's Work zone awareness week kickoff event will take place at 9 a.m. in the south parking lot of High Street Baptist Church, 900 N. Eastgate Avenue.

MoDOT is also encouraging everyone to wear orange on Monday, April 3, to support Work Zone Awareness. Anyone posting pictures or information about National Work Zone Awareness Week on social media is encouraged to use the hashtags #OrangeForSafety and #NWZAW.