SHAWNEE, Kan. — As construction heats up, so does concern for crews working on local interstates and highways.
KDOT reported there were 1,779 crashes in work zones in 2017. That is almost five every day. Of those crashes, eight were fatal, killing 12 people.
"Where we are going to be working at we had a fatality because someone wasn't paying attention," said Kenny Tabor, who has worked for KDOT for 21 years. "He rear-ended a semi or dump truck and it killed him."
Of the 12 people killed last year, 10 were inside their vehicles, and the other two were outside. "Driver-related contributing circumstances" were recorded in 75 percent of them with the top causes being "inattention, following too closely, right of way violations, improper lane change and driving too fast for the conditions," according to KDOT.
"This can become fairly dangerous," said Tabor. "The vehicles on the road, they don't care that we're out there. We are more of an inconvenience to them than anything, but we're the ones trying to help them save their cars."
Tabor said workers face dangerous situations every day working to fix potholes, striping and repairing roadways and bridges.
"We were doing a two-lane shutdown yesterday and a guy went totally around us onto the shoulder of the roadway," he said. "I told them to watch him, but they were too late. He could have killed one of us."
While summer maintenance work has many dangers, many at KDOT say winter can be even worse.
"When I was out plowing snow I got rear-ended at a railroad crossing by a drunk driver," he remembered. "We've had quite a few of these things get hit."
A reminder to slow down, move over and pay attention to not only save the lives of crews on the road but also your life.
For a look at work zone crash statistics click here.