Drive Safely in Work Zones this Construction Season
Work Zone Safety Awareness Week
April 7, 2016
Eau Claire County Highway Commissioner Jon Johnson & Chippewa County Interim Highway Commissioner Brian Kelley are urging people to drive carefully in highway work zones as the start of maintenance and construction season begins throughout Wisconsin. As the weather turns, work zones will be more prevalent putting more highway workers and drivers at risk. In 2013, the most recent year in which data is available, the Wisconsin Department of Transportation reported that there were nearly 1,600 work zone crashes in Wisconsin alone, resulting in 629 injuries and nine fatalities. In 2015, the construction season was marred by three tragedies in which Wisconsin County Highway workers were killed within work zones.
National Work Zone Awareness Week, sponsored by federal, state and local transportation officials each April, draws attention to the safety needs of road workers during construction season. Generally, crashes occur when drivers speed through a work zone, do not pay attention to changing road conditions, run into other vehicles or highway equipment, or drive off the road completely. Due to the importance of this week, Governor Scott Walker has proclaimed April 11th through 15th as Work Zone Awareness Week.
“Many sections of our state and county roads will be busy with workers and drivers in the coming months as construction and maintenance activities begin to ramp up,” said Eau Claire County Highway Commissioner Jon Johnson. “By following the rules of the road in work zones, we can keep people safe during National Work Zone Awareness Week and all year long.”
“Please remember that our road workers are performing their duties in order to provide for a safe and efficient transportation system,” added Chippewa County Interim Highway Commissioner Brian Kelley. “They are community members, spouses, parents, and friends within our County and deserve to go home safe every night.”
While typical construction work zones are prevalent throughout the county and state, there are also a significant number of maintenance operations that may be short-term or moving operations.
Drivers are reminded of the state’s “Move Over or Slow Down” law which requires drivers to shift lanes or slow down in order to provide a "safety zone" for a squad car, ambulance, fire truck, tow truck, utility vehicle, or highway maintenance vehicle that is stopped on the side of a road with its warning lights flashing.
Eau Claire County Sheriff Ron Cramer emphasized the need for motorists to be aware of work zones. “The motoring public needs to be aware, as they drive through these construction sites, that the workers are focused on the job at hand and ‘You’ as the operator of the vehicle can help keep them safe. Pay attention and please respectfully slow down for all of us.”
The Eau Claire and Chippewa County Highway Department workers and families thank you in advance for slowing down and driving attentively through our work zones.