Drivers urged to slow down in Illinois work zones

For National Work Zone Awareness Week, leaders share the dangers of working in construction zones
Published: Apr. 18, 2023 at 5:47 PM CDT
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ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) - Transportation and law enforcement officials urge Illinois drivers to be cautious around construction zones to help reduce the number of work zone injuries and deaths.

“As of January 31st, preliminary statistics for 2022 show that 32 people died in work zones in Illinois, 2 of which were workers,” Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) engineer Masood Ahmad said.

IDOT, Illinois Tollways and Illinois State Police leaders share the dangers workers face every day in area construction zones. The promotional effort is called, “You play a role in work zone safety, work with us.”

“I’ve been on the side of the road where our vehicle was struck by someone who wasn’t moving over and was distracted,” said Illinois Tollway equipment operator John Wagner.

Wagner says drivers can help save lives by following posted speed limits, moving over for flashing lights and putting the phone down.

“We have families at home we want to get home to and we can see the dangers firsthand,” Wagner said.

Illinois State Police Troop One master sergeant says the most important aspect of drivers not being distracted is being able to see when lanes change.

“You might drive through an area every day on your way to work on your way home, but if it’s a construction zone, the layout of that zone could change, the lanes may be uneven,” Brent Massingill said.

Massingill says in his 20-year career, he’s experienced accidents of all kinds within construction zones.

“Some have involved troopers, some just motorists and minor crashes all the way up to fatalities,” Massingill said.

IDOT leaders say reducing speed can make a huge difference for the workers on the side of the freeway.

“They slow down to 45, it’s a lot bigger difference with us anyway,” said IDOT highway maintainer Howard Kerley.

Ahmad says there are almost 6,000 work zone crashes every year from people not paying attention.