Minnesota joins national effort to improve safety in all highway work zones
ST. PAUL, Minn.-- Orange barrels, cones and barricades are beginning to appear along roadways across Minnesota, signaling the start of the highway construction season. The Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) and Minnesota Department of Public Safety remind motorists that National Work Zone Awareness Week is April 4-8.
"We're joining this campaign because safety in highway work zones is both a state and national issue," said Tom Sorel, MnDOT Commissioner. "We all share the responsibilities to keep highway workers and motorists safe."
MnDOT will be working on more than 250 construction projects across the state this season. City, county and tribal governments also will begin work on multiple highway improvement projects. Work zones also include stopped emergency and highway maintenance vehicles with flashing lights.
This year's awareness theme is "Safer driving. Safer work zones. For everyone."
In 2010, there were 1,915 total crashes in Minnesota work zones--11 individuals were killed. The three-year average for work zone crashes is 1,728 crashes and 10 fatalities per year.
MnDOT and the Minnesota State Patrol remind motorists to follow these guidelines when entering and driving through work zones:
--Watch for signs and work zone flaggers - expect the unexpected.
--Stay alert and avoid tailgating - traffic lanes are often narrow and rough and have little or no shoulder.
--Minimize distractions such as using cell phones, eating or drinking.
--Follow posted speed limits.
--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.