Editorial: Stay safe in work zones

Published 9:13 am Thursday, April 28, 2011

Today, we commemorate and honor Mike Struck.

Struck was the Minnesota Department of Transportation worker out of the Mankato office who perished March 22 when the backhoe he was operating on U.S. Highway 169 between Mankato and New Ulm to clear debris was pulled into floodwaters.

It’s not easy working on the highways. The weather can be hot, cold, rainy. Drivers can be erratic as they rubberneck. Many motorists think they own the road, even in construction sites, and speed or drive aggressively or both. Others are talking on their cell phones and with the increased demand on observation works zones place on drivers, distracted driving becomes even more edgy.

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Sometimes crashes happen in work zones — there were more than 1,900 in 2010, up from fewer than 1,800 in 2009 — and being on foot near one is a harmful place to be.

And even without considering the auto traffic, work zones can be dangerous. Construction sites themselves often have many types of work happening at once, so coordination and safety can get tricky despite the best efforts.

Today, Gov. Mark Dayton and MnDOT employees statewide took 10 seconds of silence to honor Struck and the 45 other workers who have died working on Minnesota’s roads.

It’s a good reminder that all drivers need to play it safe in the work zones. Put down the cell phones. Lay off the gas pedal. Keep the eyes peeled. Be respectful of workers, and do the right thing for the people around you.