The Missouri Department of Transportation reports an increase in work zone crashes despite decreased traffic volumes. MoDOT had had 39 truck/trailer-mounted attenuators hit in work zones this year. That compares to 19 hits at this time in 2019. Attenuators are described as being “like giant, crushable shock absorbers” that absorb momentum and reduce the force of impact, which lessens the damage to drivers and vehicles involved.
MoDOT Director Patrick McKenna says MoDOT has had a 100% increase in TMA hits during a time when traffic on the state’s roads has decreased by nearly 50% for much of this year. He calls that “an overwhelming figure” but notes it is “avoidable with appropriate driver attention.”
State Highway Safety and Traffic Engineer Nicole Hood says distracted driving is recognized as a “major factor” in work zone crashes. Cell phone-related crashes in Missouri have increased by 35% since 2014. Hood calls using a cell phone in a vehicle “potentially one of the most dangerous actions” someone can make while driving.
Since 2012, the state’s Slow Down and Move Over law has required motorists to slow down and change lanes when approaching MoDOT vehicles or law enforcement and emergency vehicles with lights flashing. Failure to do so is a misdemeanor and can result in fines and/or imprisonment.
Governor Mike Parson signed Lyndon’s Law last year to revoke the driver’s license of anyone who hits a highway or utility worker in a work zone or an emergency responder in an emergency zone. The law is named after 30-year MoDOT employee Lyndon Ebker who was hit and killed in a Franklin County work zone by a distracted driver in 2016.