Work Zone Safety Awareness Week begins Monday

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – In his unmarked police car, Indiana State Trooper Adam Buell has patrolled the highways and interstates of Indianapolis for six years–often in congested construction zones where drivers are supposed to slow down.

But he says too often, they don’t.

“Drivers get very distracted with what’s going on,” Buell said. “They get themselves caught up with the flow of traffic or they’re paying attention to their cell phones, or they’re running late for a meeting and they think because if they don’t see an actual worker there, there’s no harm in going a little bit faster than the posted speed limit.”

To remind drivers how important it is to slow down and pay attention, on Monday state officials will recognize Work Zone Safety Awareness Week, a push to make sure you’re paying attention when you drive through cone zones.

Police and the Indiana Department of Transportation have partnered to include unmarked white pickup trucks in these areas. The pickup trucks resemble typical vehicles normally seen near Indiana highway construction zones.

Somber displays will also go up–just like they did in 2013–to remind motorists of the lives lost in construction zone crashes last year.

INDOT said those crashes claimed 13 lives in 2013 and hurt more than 450 others. The deaths and injuries were blamed mostly on driver inattention, speeding, following too closely, making unsafe lane changes, or failing to yield right-of-way.

This year’s National Work Zone Awareness Week is “Work Zone Speeding: A Costly Mistake.” And in Indiana, it is. Drivers here face fines of up to $1,000 for speeding and up to $5,000 for driving recklessly through work zones.

INDOT officials said the money is used to pay for additional work zone patrols and to promote public safety.

April is also Distracted Driving Awareness Month.

Police, INDOT, and other state agencies have all partnered to award $5,000 scholarships to high school or college students who come up with the most creative and viral social media posts using #TXTL8RIN. The DRIVE NOW. TXT L8R campaign runs through the month of April. Click here for contest rules and information.

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