ILLINOIS (WAND) - Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) officials said they're more even more concerned about crashes in work zones during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Traffic volume has decreased with the state's stay-at-home order still active in late April. With this happening and weather improving, authorities said increased speeding and severe crashes are becoming growing concerns.
“This is an unusual time for all of us. We have far less traffic in our work zones, which makes work zone safety awareness more critical than ever,” said Illinois Tollway Executive Director José Alvarez. “Construction is still occurring all along our system. Drivers need to slow down, be alert for new traffic patterns and always follow posted speed limits for the safety of workers, first responders and other drivers.”
Drivers are still encouraged to only travel if they have to during the pandemic.
"If you are driving at any time this year, you will drive through a work zone. Put down the phone. Pay attention to the signs. Don’t speed. At the end of the day, everyone wants to get home safely. Always remember: See Orange. Slow Down. Save Lives.”
There are over 5,100 crashes in Illinois work zones on average every year, resulting in nearly 1,400 injuries. There were 30 state work zones deaths, including the death of one worker, in 2019.
In the words of IDOT, drivers should practice the following guidelines when traveling through work zones:
- Drop it and drive. Phones and electronic devices down at all times – it’s the law.
- Obey the signs. They will help you safely navigate work zones – and sometimes avoid delays.
- Give it a brake. The posted speed limits are there for the safety of workers and you.
- Consider the limitations of heavy equipment, trucks and commercial vehicles. Provide them extra distance to come to a complete stop if they are behind you.
- Expect the unexpected. Lane shifts and closures, slowed and stopped traffic are common.
- Look for the dynamic or “zipper” merge at select projects. To improve traffic flow, digital message signs will advise motorists when and when not to merge and enter the work zone.
National Work Zone Awareness Week is again active as a partnership between the Illinois Department of Transportation, Illinois Tollway, Illinois State Police industry partners and front line construction workers. The theme for 2020 is "Safe Work Zones for All: Protect workers, protect road users".