Topeka event stresses work zone safety, is followed by ironic twist

TOPEKA (KSNT) – On Wednesday afternoon, The Kansas Department of Transportation stressed the importance of work zone safety and awareness.

Wednesday’s safety event was just one of several activities that are a part of National Work Zone Awareness Week.

The goal of the week is to raise awareness about the dangers highway workers and motorists face in work zones.

“We do this at the start of the construction season, just a reminder for people that have not been used to driving in construction zones for a while,” said KDOT Secretary Mike King. “We want you to pay special attention to our highway workers that are out there, our contracting workers that are out there and you as the public.”

Last year in Kansas, 480 people were injured and four people were killed while traveling in a work zones.

“I warned the other flagman over the radio what was happening and then I dove into the ditch,” said KDOT Hays Area Superintendent Max Dirks, detailing an incident that happened to him in a work zone where a semi driver had trouble stopping and came very close to hitting workers and nearby motorists. “All I could think about was the eight KDOT equipment operators working on the bridge. Are they hurt? Are they alive?”

His was just one of several sad stories told at the Topeka event. “Work zone safety and awareness is important, not just today, not just one week out of the year.” Dirks said. “It is important every day you drive our Kansas roads.”

When traveling through a work zone, motorists should be sure to:

  • Follow traffic control
  • Stay alert
  • Watch for workers
  • Expect delays
  • Allow ample space between you and the car in front of you
  • Change lanes when directed to do so

National Work Zone Awareness Week runs April 11 through April 15. Highway workers and others are sharing stories this week at ksdotblog.blogspot.com.

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