(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.) Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) and the Missouri State Highway Patrol have teamed up to spread awareness about construction zone safety.
In March, MoDOT employee Justin Baldwin said he was nearly hit by a drunk driver in a construction zone.
"It all happened too fast," Baldwin said. "She swerved towards me and I jumped back."
He thought then that it was over, but the female driver came back through the work zone blowing through stop signs, cones and nearly missing the workers.
"I yelled as loud as I could that she was coming back through, but heck, they couldn't hear," Baldwin said.
The woman then came back a third time, but luckily no one was injured. Unfortunately, these workers said they see a lot of drunk or distracted drivers.
"I hear horror stories from our staff about the things people are doing with their phones while they are driving not paying a bit of attention," Chris Redline, MoDOT employee, said.
In the last five years, almost 60 people have died in construction zone crashes. MoDOT and the Missouri State Highway Patrol hope to lessen that number with a week dedicated to spreading safety awareness.
"The average text messages is 4.6 seconds, roughly 5 seconds, basically blind. If somebody looks down that long, they are travelling the length of a football field basically blind," Jake Angle, Missouri State Highway Patrol, said.
However, this awareness week isn't only about cell phones. It's about all distracted driving including turning on the radio, drinking a sip of coffee and reaching over into the passengers seat.
"What it boils down to is, we need people to pay attention when they are going down the road," Angle said.
Both agencies are asking Missourians to visit the MoDOT website and take the Buckle Up, Phone Down pledge.