Wisconsin DOT reminds drivers to pay attention in work zones

There have been 59 deaths and more than 5,000 injuries due to work zone crashes in Wisconsin...
There have been 59 deaths and more than 5,000 injuries due to work zone crashes in Wisconsin the past five years.(WBAY)
Published: Apr. 27, 2021 at 7:10 AM CDT
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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) - National Work Zone Awareness Week is April 26 through April 30 in Wisconsin.

According to the Wisconsin Department of Transportation, a crash occurred in a work zone every three and a half hours in 2020. In the past five years, there have been more than 13,000 crashes in work zones, resulting in more than 5,000 injuries and 59 deaths in that time span in Wisconsin.

These figures are why the Wisconsin DOT is working hard to get the message out about safe driving in work zones, utilizing public service announcements, the state’s highway messaging system, and advertisements to remind people to pay attention while behind the wheel.

On Monday, a highway worker was injured near Kendall due to a crash in a work zone. According to the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office, the incident is a ‘sobering’ reminder to drivers to be alert when driving through work zones.

The Wisconsin DOT says a majority of crashes are due to speeding, tailgating and distracted driving.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration says that one-third of all work zone crashes that result in a death involve large trucks. According to the Federal Highway Administration, 842 people died in highway work zone crashes in 2019, compared to 757 in 2018.  The 11.2% annual increase is the largest percentage increase of highway work zone deaths since 2000.

Challenges for drivers include narrow lanes, sudden stops, traffic pattern shifts, and uneven road surfaces. The Federal Highway Administration says that drivers should move into the open lane as soon as possible when approaching lane closures, check blind spots, and be aware for rapidly-changing traffic patterns. Drivers should also pay attention for directions and signs from flaggers and work zone message displays.

Information from WBAY was used in this story.

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