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MnDOT launches work zone safety campaign

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ST. PAUL — Despite the wintry weather Minnesota is experiencing, the Minnesota Department of Transportation is kicking off Work Zone Awareness Week April 15 with a new public education campaign. The campaign reminds motorists to slow down and pay attention in construction zones.

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“Work zones are dangerous places for workers and travelers,” said Charlie Zelle, MnDOT commissioner. “This campaign is one of many ways we are reminding people to drive safely when they see orange barrels and trucks.”

A $75 million dollar construction season is about to begin in west central Minnesota, the largest the region has ever experienced.

“We want motorists to plan ahead, expect occasional delays and pay attention for their safety and the safety of the construction workers,” said Jody Martinson, MnDOT District 4 transportation engineer. “Our goal is to make sure both drivers and workers get home safely to their families each day.”

The billboards, radio, television and online advertising coincide with state road crews starting construction on more than 300 projects across Minnesota. City, county and tribal governments also are working on multiple highway improvement projects. The ads will run through November; the national Work Zone Awareness Week is April 15-19. Artwork is available at http://www.dot.state.mn.us/workzone/graphics.html

Two of the most common factors in work zone crashes are speeding and inattentive driving. The ads are designed to remind motorists of their responsibility to keep themselves and workers safe.

In 2012, there were 1,931 total crashes in Minnesota work zones—three individuals were killed. The three-year average for work zone crashes is 1,819 crashes and seven fatalities per year.

Mn/DOT reminds motorists to follow these guidelines when entering and driving through work zones:

Stay safe in work zones

  • Work zones are wherever you see workers, flaggers and surveyors in bright yellow-green or orange vests.
  • Work zones also include stopped emergency and highway maintenance vehicles with flashing lights. 
  • Work zones are also marked with orange cones or barrels, concrete barriers, traffic control devices or moving vehicles with flashers.
  • Work zones operate day and night, anywhere you travel.

Pay attention

  • Stay alert, especially at night.
  • Obey posted speed limits. Fines may double for violations in work zones.
  • Expect work zones to constantly change. Day to day, you could experience lane shifts, closures or moving workers and vehicles.
  • Never enter a road blocked with barriers or cones.
  • Don’t make unnecessary lane changes.
  • Stay off cell phones and mobile devices.
  • Be patient. Expect delays, especially during peak travel times.
  • Move over one lane, if possible, or reduce speed for stopped emergency or maintenance vehicles, including ambulance, fire, law enforcement or maintenance and construction vehicles.

Promoting work zone safety is a component of the state’s core traffic safety initiative,Toward Zero Deaths. A primary vision of the TZD program is to create a safe driving culture in Minnesota in which motorists support a goal of zero road fatalities by practicing and promoting safe and smart driving behavior. TZD focuses on the application of four strategic areas to reduce crashes — education, enforcement, engineering and emergency trauma response.

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