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'Don't be on the phone, don't be eating:' DOT urges caution in work zones

Posted May 24

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— Roads under construction are easy to find in North Carolina but although they’re clearly marked, more than 50 percent of work zone crashes are caused by speeding and distracted driving.

Last month authorities said a driver hit two DOT workers on Interstate 440. Warrants show one of them was pinned between the driver’s car and a work truck. Both of his legs were amputated and his coworker was thrown over a guard rail.

The driver in that incident, Angela Renee Roland, 44, was charged with driving while impaired and two counts of felony serious injury by vehicle.

Last week, troopers say two other workers were hit on Interstate 95 near Lumberton. One worker died and the other had serious injuries.

“These are prime examples,” said Steve Abbott with the North Carolina DOT. “Basically, they are unprotected workers on the road.”

Abbott said the full list of injuries to DOT workers is, tragically, much longer than the two recent events.

“It shows the dangers for the workers and the passengers and drivers of cars going by work zones,” he said.

A recent study by the Associated General Contractors of America shows 43 percent of contractors in the state reported crashes in their work zones in the past year.

Last year, 19 people died in work zone crashes in North Carolina and three of those people were construction workers.

So far this year, 10 people have died in similar accident and two were workers.

“Don’t be on the phone, don’t be eating. Two hands on the wheel, watch very carefully,” Abbott said.

Another important tip is to slow down, especially as the summer travel season gets underway.

“A lot more people are out driving. It’s very dangerous if they are not careful,” Abbott said.

Last month, Gov. Pat McCrory issued a proclamation urging drivers to use caution in work zones.


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