Missouri work zone crashes double despite half the traffic

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Updated Sep 2, 2020
This attenuator was struck in one of two separate crashes in Missouri DOT work zones on June 15. Photo credit: MoDOTThis attenuator was struck in one of two separate crashes in Missouri DOT work zones on June 15. Photo credit: MoDOT

The Missouri Department of Transportation reports that twice as many drivers have crashed into work zones so far this year when compared to the same period in 2019.

The 39 crashes involved drivers hitting truck- or trailer-mounted attenuators, which are designed to alert drivers to a work zone while also absorbing some of the impact to protect workers and the driver. Last year at this time, 19 such crashes had occurred, according to MoDOT. The wrecks also come as the state has seen about half as many vehicles on the road because of the pandemic, the agency says.

The agency is not alone in seeing a rise in work zone crashes. The Ohio DOT reported in June that five of its work zones had been crashed into within eight days.

The driver of this car crashed into a work zone June 15 in St. Louis. Photo credit: MoDOTThe driver of this car crashed into a work zone June 15 in St. Louis. Photo credit: MoDOT

The MoDOT attributes the crashes to increased distracted driving, saying that since 2014, wrecks that involved drivers using cellphones increased 35 percent in the state.

The state is one of only two that does not ban texting and driving for all drivers, according to WGEM TV news station. Missouri currently bans only drivers under 21 from texting and driving. Montana, the only other state with no universal texting-and-driving law, has no ban on texting and driving at all.

The MoDOT urged drivers to adhere to the state’s move-over law that requires drivers to slow and move to a farther lane when approaching maintenance workers, law enforcement officers and emergency responders. The state also enacted a law last year to automatically revoke a driver’s license if the driver “hits a highway or utility worker in a work zone or an emergency responder in an emergency zone,” MoDOT says.