National work zone awareness week - - Jackson, MS

National work zone awareness week

JACKSON, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

Over the years, dozens of construction workers have been killed working in work zones across the Magnolia State. State transportation officials say it's up to you and me to make sure the number of fatalities and injuries drops.

Construction cones with Mississippi Department of Transportation (MDOT) hats represent the 40 lives which have been lost in Mississippi construction work zones over the past 20 years. Each one of the construction workers lost his life after a driver recklessly went through a construction work zone. The most recent fatality was on April 9, 2012.

Melinda McGrath, the Executive Director for MDOT said that accident happened in south Mississippi.

"They had slowed down, well the vehicle coming behind them did not realize they were in a work zone, they did not slow down they came into the back of that truck pushed the truck across the bridge, one of our workers died," said McGrath.

In honor of "National Work Zone Awareness Week," the names of those killed in work zones were listed on hard hats outside of MDOT Monday morning. "National Work Zone Awareness Week" recognizes the hundreds killed and injured in work zones across the country. McGrath hopes the cones symbolizing MDOT's fallen workers will act as a safety reminder for drivers.

"Anytime you see the orange and white barrels, the orange and black sign we want the public to immediately think I am entering a work zone," said McGrath.

One very active work zone is on I-20 between Pearl and Brandon. The road is being widened to six lanes. Barriers are lined up to prevent drivers from coming into the work zone.

"But it narrows the roadway or it makes you feel like the roadway is the same width as the shoulder, so it's very important that those vehicles stay in their lane," McGrath told WLBT News.

Nationally, in 2010, 576 workers and motorists were killed in construction work zones; there were 37,476 injuries. 

McGrath said, "the public needs to remember when you go through a work zone, 4 out of 5 of the fatalities that occur in a work zone are usually the motoring public," and not the construction worker.

MDOT officials say texting and reading emails are two of the biggest distractions leading to accidents on the roads. So drivers are advised put the phones down, because one split second could end or drastically change your life.

 Copyright 2012 WLBT. All rights reserved.

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