JEFFERSON CITY - Every spring, the Missouri Department of Transportation starts preparing for a busy summer season of construction and maintenance work across the state.
Part of that preparation includes a coordinated, comprehensive approach to keep motorists and workers safe in work zones. That's why the department will observe National Work Zone Awareness Week, which is April 15-19.
"Each year we observe Work Zone Awareness Week to remind motorists to slow down, eliminate distractions, and pay attention in work zones," said MoDOT Director Dave Nichols. "This year we repeat this message with heavy hearts, after losing yet another member of the MoDOT team last year."
On September 21, 2012, Motorist Assist Operator Clifton Scott had just established traffic control following a collision on eastbound I-70 in Independence. He was struck and killed by a vehicle passing through the area.
"Clifton is one of 16 MoDOT workers who died in the line of duty since 2000," said Nichols. "While we thoroughly train our team to take safety measures when working near traffic, we need every driver to watch out for highway workers and do their part to make sure everyone can return home safely."
When possible, MoDOT places signs, barricades and other forms of traffic control far in advance of what most people consider a "typical" work zone. But that might not always be the case, particularly when work zones are established in an emergency situation or a moving operation.
"This year, we really want to emphasize that not all work zones look alike," said Beth Wright, MoDOT State Maintenance Engineer. "We want to remind motorists that work zones can be moving operations, such as mowing or roadway striping. They can also be short term, temporary lane closures to make quick repairs or remove debris."
Last year, MoDOT vehicles were added to the "Move Over" law, which protects law enforcement and emergency response vehicles parked on the side of the road.
"We ask that motorists follow this law and move over or slow down when they see MoDOT vehicles with amber and white lights flashing," said Wright.
As part of Work Zone Awareness Week 2013, MoDOT is distributing a new public service announcement that features Clifton Scott. Clifton was interviewed several years ago by a Kansas City television station, urging motorists to be cautious as they approach work zones. In the video, he speaks of his desire to safely return home to his family every night. That video and additional information about work zones can be found at www.modot.org.