IDOT issues reminder to slow down in work zones this road construction season
As road construction season unofficially kicks off, the Illinois Department of Transportation is reminding drivers to slow down and pay attention in work zones to keep both themselves and workers safe.
"The worst thing in my job that I can ever do is call a family member and tell them that their loved one is not coming home that evening," said IDOT Region 3 engineer Kensil Garnett at a Tuesday press conference hosted in East Peoria.
From 2017 to 2021, an average of more than 6,000 work zone crashes happened every year, per data from IDOT. One hundred forty-four people died in those crashes, including six road workers.
Garnett said one of the biggest issues he sees in work zones is merging into traffic.
"The signs are put out well in advance for you to get over," he said. "Please follow and do such. That cuts down on the road rage and things of that nature."
Garnett said if the road isn't heavily congested, merge early into the open lane in the work zone. If the road is congested with traffic or vehicles are moving slowly, zipper merging is recommended.
The Illinois State Police are also reminding drivers about Scott's Law, which requires vehicles to change lanes or slow down when emergency or construction vehicles with their lights flashing are pulled over on the side of the roadway.
Illinois State Police Captain Jon Dively said five troopers have already been injured this year due to Scott's Law violations.
The Murray Baker Bridge will be lit in orange at night this week to honor those who have died in work zones. The bridge is currently closed to vehicular traffic as part of a major revamp.