Drivers beware: Season begins for highway construction zones

PIERRE, S.D. (KEVN) - A good rule of thumb when you drive through a highway construction zone is to drive like you work there. That’s the advice from the South Dakota Department of Transportation during National work Zone Awareness week, now through April 12.

“We understand work zones can result in delays and frustration,” says Secretary of Transportation Darin Bergquist. “But, when motorists drive recklessly through work zones, they are putting the lives of highway workers, themselves, other drivers and passengers at risk.”

Nationwide, four out of every five work zone deaths are drivers. Drivers need to slow down while navigating work zones; give their full attention to the cars and work going on around them.

According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, speed is the number one concern in work zone safety. If speeding is combined with in-vehicle distractions and inattentive or aggressive driving, the potential for a deadly crash increases.

“We want motorists who are tempted to speed, or drive distracted through work zones to remember that these are real people with real families and friends,” says Bergquist.

The SDDOT encourages motorists to practice the following safety tips when traveling through work zones:
• Plan Ahead – Expect delays and plan for them.
• Don’t Speed – Reduce speed before entering a work zone. If other motorists are speeding, don’t follow the bad example. Remember, fines are double in work zones.
• Avoid Distractions – Dedicate full attention to the road. Avoid distracting activities like adjusting the radio and talking or texting on a cell phone.
• Expect the Unexpected – Be extra vigilant because the traffic patterns and speeds are different than normal.
• Be Prepared to Stop – Signs and work-zone flaggers save lives.
• Don’t Tailgate – Maintain adequate and safe distances from workers and other vehicles.
• Be Patient – Remember, road crews are working to improve your future ride. Someone’s family is expecting them home at the end of their shift.

To obtain the most recent road construction information in South Dakota, please visit http://www.safetravelusa.com/sd and click on the orange signs or dial 511.