Road construction season is in full swing and with safety in mind workers are asking drivers to ease up on the pedal.
Under optimal conditions, Michigan construction work zones are dangerous for drivers. Add in inclement weather or driver distractions, and construction zones can quickly become crash scenes.
Buena Vista Township and other fire departments across the state were asked by MDOT and Michigan State Police to bring fire trucks to work zones and crashes as a highly visible barrier to protect workers on the other side. One Buena Vista firefighter said they spend more time in a construction zone, than fighting fires.
“He might be exaggerating just a tad,” said Aaron Hoeppner, Deputy Fire Chief for Buena Vista Township.
Hoeppner agrees his trucks create a needed barrier saving rescuers from reckless drivers in construction zones.
“Helping to control some of that traffic from possibly causing another accident, hitting a police officer, or a tow truck driver,” Hoeppner said.
Last year there were 4,035 work zone crashes. 11 of them fatal resulting in 14 deaths and 1,050 work zone injuries.
Most work zone crashes occurring with lanes closed. The second and third most crashes in zones with shoulder and median work and lane shifts and crossovers.
“Pay attention, follow the speed limits, slow down, we obviously have the "Where workers present" signs. We just ask that motorists be aware of their surroundings and obey those traffic control devices,” said Ryan McDonnell, MDOT Bay Region traffic safety & operations engineer.
Most work zone crashes caused by inattentive and or distracted drivers and speeding. More crashes happen during the day than night.
Fatal crashes happen more often during May through September and most often, it is drivers, or their passengers killed or injured.
“People paying attention and being a little more cautious, slow down a little bit, so that we don't have to be out there as much as we are, that would be probably the biggest help for us,” Hoeppner said.