JACKSON, Miss. (WJTV) – Monday, April 17 through Friday, April 21 is Work Zone Awareness Week in Mississippi, and leaders with the Mississippi Department of Transportation (MDOT) are reminding drivers how they play a role in work zone safety.

“You play a role in work zone safety. Work with us” is this year’s theme for the week.

“Hundreds of people are killed every year in work zone crashes. Most are drivers, their passengers and pedestrians. That’s why we ask Mississippi’s traveling public to do their part. Work with us in making work zones safer. This means when you see orange, please slow down, pay attention and avoid all distractions,” said MDOT Executive Director Brad White.

According to MDOT, in 2020, 774 fatal crashes in work zones occurred nationally, resulting in 857 total work zone fatalities. Five of those were in Mississippi. Approximately 85% of all work zone related fatalities were the driver or passenger.

MDOT leaders offered the following tips for safe travel in work zones:

  • Pay attention – You should always keep your eyes on the road, but this is exceptionally important in work zones. Be aware of all signage throughout work zones that can indicate reduced speeds, lane changes and other important information.
  • Avoid distractions – This not only includes cell phone use, but eating, drinking, operating radios and GPS and conversing with other passengers.
  • Slow down – Lane closures, traffic pattern shifts and reduced speeds are common in work zones. Make sure to slow down when entering a work zone and keep an eye out for roadside workers.
  • Move into the open lane – When approaching lane closures, move into the open lane as soon as possible. Be sure to pay close attention to vehicles around you that could be in your blind spot.
  • Keep your distance – Rear-end crashes are extremely common in work zones – maintain extra space between your vehicle and the one in front of you at all times.
  • Research your route – Before setting out on the road, research your route. When possible, avoid active work zones and use any detours that are available.