Fatality causes concern for work zones across the state

Medford, Ore. – An Oregon Department of Transportation flagger in Monmouth was killed and another seriously injured after getting hit by a car on Wednesday. Unfortunately ODOT says work zone incidents like these are not rare.

According to ODOT, work zone injuries happen almost every 18 hours in Oregon. But now they’re working to increase police presence, and let drivers know the best ways to keep workers – and themselves – safe in construction zones.

Roughly 488 work zone crashes happen every year in Oregon, and of those at least five are fatal.

“Work zones on highways are one of the most dangerous areas,” Oregon Department of Transportation PIO, Gary Leaming said.

The reason for a majority of those crashes is negligent drivers. National studies show driver inattention is the biggest contributor to work zone crashes.

“You have sleepy drivers, you have drugged drivers, you have drunk drivers and then you have the high speeds,” he said. “So, that combination is very deadly and can mean injury and death to our workers. ”

Work zone crashes aren’t just dangerous for workers on the road. The Oregon Department of Transportation sites that on average about 85% of work zone deaths are drivers or their passengers.

“We really want people to pay attention, and we are getting law enforcement help for those who aren’t pay that much attention,” Leaming said.

“So that they slow down, and that is not for anything other than traffic safety,” Medford Police Sgt. Don Lane said. “For other motorists, for the contractors for the construction workers who are out there, and anybody else who’s working on the roadway.”

ODOT says when you see orange, that’s your cue to ease up on the gas and keep your speed down in construction zones. That way, there’s a higher chance everyone walks away safely.

“We want to go home at night, and we know our contractors do and we know our drivers do as well.”

ODOT officials tell NBC5 that in certain work zones like the Medford Viaduct project, police monitor the construction with a radar van. This gives them the ability to ticket you if you speed or act recklessly within road construction. So always make sure to watch your speed in construction zones.

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