WEST MICHIGAN — As the annual tradition of summertime road construction kicks into gear, the Michigan Department of Transportation is warning motorists to be cautious of work zones.
MDOT kicked off 'Work Zone Awareness Week' in Traverse City Monday. The goal of the week-long event is to highlight the dangers that roadside workers face and bring attention to what motorists should be doing when traveling through work zones.
According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, Michigan ranks seventh-highest for fatal work zone crashes. The state saw 25 deaths resulting from work zone crashes in 2017 alone.
"Driving is dangerous enough when you toss in a work zone it kinda throws a ripple into things," MDOT spokesperson John Richard says. "I talked to a lot of construction crews yesterday. They say they see people driving by everyday speeding, tailgating and looking down at their phone. They're not even looking where they're going. So, when your'e working next to live traffic, that's pretty scary."
The Work Zone Awareness Week initiative was launched in 2000. In terms of what motorists should be doing in work zones, "Just normal driving behavior really. Focusing at all times, paying attention, following rules, reading signs, don't tailgate, don't speed, don't get angry, patience," Richard says.
Drivers are reminded that 60 mph is the max speed in a work zone, 45 mph if workers are present. In situations of congested traffic, drivers should go even slower.
So, where can we expect to see work zones this summer?
MDOT is currently working to widen the westbound bridge over the Grand River near US-131. And a few miles east, they are working on the I-96/ I-196 split at the East Beltline.
Click here for more information about Work Zone Awareness Week.