Highway Workers Urge Motorists To Watch Speed - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Highway Workers Urge Motorists To Watch Speed

BILOXI (WLOX) -- This is "National Work Zone Awareness" week, and highway construction workers are urging motorists to slow down and pay attention.

They work uncomfortably close to fast moving cars. Highway workers must always keep a wary eye on traffic. They're sometimes just inches apart.

"There's nothing separating these workers but some orange drums and some orange cones in a lot of these places," said Kelly Castleberry, an engineer for the Mississippi Department of Transportation.

"We would just ask that people be aware that when you enter these work zones, there's people that are out there working. This is their livelihood and they're actually doing this work for you," he said.

With so much of Highway 90 now a construction zone, motorists need to be extra careful and aware anytime they use the busy beach highway. The construction zones are often moving as the work progresses.

"The speeding is the biggest problem," said worker Phyllis Jorden.

She and her fellow highway workers are not especially bothered by the middle finger salute and other rude gestures they get from the passing public. But that speed can be deadly.

"When they do go jamming brakes on and squealing tires, you gotta look and take off running 'cause you don't know which way they're gonna go," she explained.

Drivers who fail to slow down for construction workers may be surprised to learn that motorists are four times more likely than highway workers to be injured or killed in a construction zone accident.

Along with saving lives, slowing down could save you money. Traffic fines are doubled in construction zones and can easily hit several hundred dollars.

The bottom line: Take it easy.

"We really don't want to be out here slowing traffic down. But you have to give something up if you want the new roadway. And if people would just slow down, it would help our job a whole lot," says Jorden.

Unfortunately, construction zone fatalities are on the rise nationwide. There's been about a 40 percent increase in work zone deaths over the past ten years.

You can do your part to make it safer, simply by slowing down.

By Steve Phillips

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