Work Zone Awareness Week focuses on safety

From local sources

VINCENNES — With nearly $800 million in road construction projects planned, the Indiana Department of Transportation expects this year will equate to a busy road construction season in the Hoosier State.

That’s why it’s more important than ever to use extreme caution in Indiana’s highway work zones, according to INDOT spokeswoman Cher Elliott.

Gov. Mike Pence has proclaimed next week as Work Zone Awareness Week in Indiana. It will mark the ceremonial start of highway construction season and the projects that will enhance safety, mobility and economic growth in Indiana.

Indiana’s campaign coincides with National Work Zone Awareness Week and its theme: “Work Zone Speeding: A Costly Mistake,” which highlights the consequences of dangerous driving in work zones.

Motorists in Indiana face fines of up to $1,000 for speeding and up to $5,000 for driving recklessly through work zones. Drivers who injure or kill a highway worker could face a $10,000 fine and up to eight years behind bars.

By highlighting these consequences, Elliott said, the intent is to inform drivers and encourage everyone to drive carefully through work zones.

The above-mentioned fines are used to fund additional Indiana State Police work zone patrols and promote public safety. INDOT and the Indiana State Police have teamed to include unmarked white pickup trucks in highway work zones patrols. The pickup trucks resemble typical vehicles normally seen near Indiana highway construction zones. Motorists are urged to always comply with speed limits in construction zones and improve safety for both the highway workers and the motoring public.

Some drivers think it’s safe to ignore work zone speed limits if workers are not present. But, on average, four of every five deaths in highway work zone crashes are drivers and their passengers, not highway workers.

Last year, 13 motorists — and zero workers — were killed and more than 450 people were injured in Indiana highway work zone crashes. The majority of those injuries and deaths were caused by driver inattention, speeding, following too closely, making unsafe lane changes or failing to yield right-of-way, according to Elliott.

Highway work zones leave no room for distractions and require attentive, cautious driving habits, Elliott said.

INDOT urges motorists to drive safely by following these tips:

Ӣ Stay alert. Look for reduced speed limits, narrow driving lanes and highway workers.

Ӣ Pay attention. Work zone signs will indicate exactly what to expect ahead.

Ӣ Merge early. If drivers merge as soon as they see the signs, traffic will flow more smoothly.

”¢ Slow down. If you’re speeding, you may encounter slowed or stopped traffic within seconds.

”¢ Don’t tailgate. Maintain a safe distance on all sides of your vehicle.

”¢ Minimize distractions. The three C’s — cell phones, CDs and coffee — are the primary causes of driver inattention.

Ӣ Plan ahead. Expect delays and allow extra travel time.

April is also Distracted Driving Awareness Month. The Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles, Indiana Criminal Justice Institute, Indiana Department of Labor, Indiana State Police and INDOT have combined to award $5,000 scholarships to high school and college students who compose the most creative and viral social media posts on Twitter, Instagram and Vine using #TXTL8RIN. Go to for contest rules and information.

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