Stay alert in road construction zones

Local News

MINNEHAHA COUNTY, S.D. (KELO) – The South Dakota Highway Patrol is investigating a crash that sent a 19-year-old man to the hospital with life-threatening injuries last night. The construction-related crash happened on Highway 42 just west of the intersection of 12 Street and Ellis Road in Sioux Falls. The man was a construction worker, who reportedly did not see a semi as he was moving cones on the road.

Construction zones can be a dangerous place for all of us.

“There’s a lot of large equipment, there can be drop-offs next to the roadway, there’s obviously traffic passing through that work zone, materials being delivered in and out, so they really are a busy place,” Travis Dressen with the South Dakota Deparment of Transportation said.

Travis Dressen with the South Dakota Department of Transportation says nationally about 700 people die each year in work zones.

“In South Dakota, we average about 270 crashes per year, about 82 injury crashes and, unfortunately, about three fatal crashes,” Dressen said.

From reflective vests to steel-toed boots, workers are required to wear protective equipment. However, Dressen says the most important thing a worker can do is stay alert.

“Be aware of your surroundings, never take your eyes off of the traffic that’s around you or the equipment that’s around you. If you’re going to be moving around that equipment, make sure you make visual contact with the operator so they know that you’re there because their visibility is limited in those types of machinery,” Dressen said.

But it’s not just workers who need to pay attention. Dressen says four out of five fatalities that happen in work zones involve the public and not the workers. He wants to remind everyone to slow down and watch out for those workers in reflective vests.

“We’ve seen distracted driving become more of a problem, also following too close. That’s a dangerous practice out on the open road, but especially true in a work zone. One of the things that we say is to expect the unexpected,” Dressen said.

Dressen says when an incident happens like last night’s crash, the Department of Transportation evaluates the police investigations to determine what might need to change to avoid another crash.

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