Road Commission encourages drivers to be safe in work zones

April 13, 2023

Road Commission encourages drivers to be safe in work zones

By Rob Alway, Editor-in-Chief

SCOTTVILLE — In 2021, Michigan’s Office of Highway Safety Planning reported 5,800 work zone crashes resulting in 20 work zone fatalities. In 2022, Mack Isom of the Berrien County Road Department died in a work zone while clearing a downed tree in the road. In March of this year, Rene Rangel of the Van Buren County Road Commission lost his life while directing traffic with a road sign. 

The week of April 17 to 21 is National Work Zone Awareness Week. Mary Samuels, managing director of the Mason County Road Commission, said she wants to remind local drivers to be conscious of road workers and to be sure they pay attention to the road at all times while driving. 

“We have been lucky that it has been many years since there has been a work zone injury here in Mason County,” Samuels said. “But, we need to be sure that drivers remain alert and pay attention to the road.” 

Samuels said there are several local and state road construction projects planned in Mason County this year. 

“It only takes a split second of distraction to change lives forever,” Samuels said. “We strongly encourage motorists to pay attention to signs and slow down in work zones. Even if there are no workers in that work zone, the posted speed limit is the speed limit.

“We can fix our roads and bridges safely if we all work together. We work diligently to create safe work zones and we ask that motorists be responsible and cautious when driving through them.” 

Samuels said she encourages motorists to follow these safe driving tips provided by the Michigan Work Zone Safety Task Force: 

  • Expect changes: Work zone speed limits are usually reduced. Traffic lanes may change and workers, vehicles, or equipment may enter the traffic lane unexpectedly. 
  • Minimize distractions: Don’t use cell phones or engage in other distracting activities. Lives are at stake. 
  • Obey workers and signs: Road crews know what is best for moving traffic safely. Follow all signs and instructions to merge, slow down or stop. 
  • Don’t speed or tailgate: Fines double for speeding in a Michigan work zone. Keep a safe distance between you and the vehicle ahead of you. 
  • Pay attention: Vehicles may slow, stop or change lanes unexpectedly. Watch for brake lights and be prepared to react to traffic. 
  • Be patient and calm: Work zones are a necessary step to improve roads and make your future drive better. 

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