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    MDOT, police increase enforcement amid spike in work zone crashes

    By Annie Doyle, The Petoskey News-Review,

    2024-05-18
    https://img.particlenews.com/image.php?url=3AuYCC_0t7f54rq00

    CHEBOYGAN — With the early onset of road construction season, the Michigan Department of Transportation has already recorded several crashes in work zones.

    A common cause for vehicle crashes in construction areas is due to speeding, MDOT officials said. Offenders caught speeding in construction zones face doubled fines and additional points on their driving records.

    The Michigan State Police are working together with MDOT to enforce work zone speed limits more stringently and bring awareness to the dangers of speeding in these areas.

    We are seeing a number of motorists speeding through these construction areas and it’s unsafe for the motorists and for the workers that have to work under these conditions every day,” said MSP Sgt. Ashley Miller.

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    MDOT invited reporters to see the issue for themselves on May 14 at a construction site along I-75 in Cheboygan County. Numerous vehicles were noted for exceeding the 60 mph speed limit, with some reaching up to 75 mph as a trooper monitored traffic speeds.

    "Speeding is a common behavior we're observing and it's a significant contributor to accidents," said James Lake, MDOT North Region Communications Specialist.

    Lake added that speeding is especially dangerous for the construction personnel who are working on site.

    “This is their work place," he said. "Everyday they come out here they are working in close proximity to traffic and they hope they make it home safe every night."

    As summer travel ramps up, Sgt. Miller advised drivers to anticipate construction, plan routes accordingly and slow down to ensure worker safety.

    “When you are planning your vacations this summer or your weekend getaways just know that there is going to be construction and plan accordingly. Slow down and give these workers some space to do their job,” she said.

    Brad Swanson, MDOT Construction Engineer overseeing projects in the region, stressed the human cost of non-compliance.

    “People's lives are at stake. That is really what it comes down to. We hear every year about road workers that are killed or injured in work zone crashes,” Swanson said.

    Construction zones can be confusing, with heavy equipment, changes to traffic lanes, orange barrels and barrier walls providing distractions to drivers, according to Swanson.

    “If people aren’t paying attention and driving at the reduced speed limits, then everyone is in danger,” he warned.

    In 2023, preliminary work zone crash statistics in Michigan show there were:

    • 7,237 work zone crashes
    • 17 fatal work zone crashes
    • 20 work zone fatalities (two were road workers)
    • 1,896 work zone injuries
    • 108 involved serious injuries

    For more information, visit michigan.gov/mdot/travel/safety.

    — Contact reporter Annie Doyle at (231) 675-0099 and adoyle@charlevoixcourier.com

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