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Drivers dying in NY work zones more often than road workers

Drivers dying in NY work zones more often than road workers (WRGB)

ALBANY, NY (WRGB)--Road crews have one of the most dangerous jobs out there, but new information shows drivers are dying in New York work zones more often than road workers.

Russell Smith is a Maintenance Supervisor for the NYS Department of Transportation. He has to balance fixing the road with watching for cars that could crash into him.

“They don’t see our signs, and they run right up onto us,” Smith said.

But he says he's also seen it the other way, distracted drivers crashing into each other near the work site.

The NYSDOT says 7 people were killed traveling through DOT project sites in 2016, all of them drivers or passengers.

The numbers have improved when it comes to the lives of road crews. According to state statistics, the last time a NYSDOT worker was killed in a work zone was back in 2009.

For years, the message from NYSDOT has been ‘slow down to protect the lives of workers’, but now they're taking that one step further, telling folks ‘slow down to protect workers lives and their own lives’.

NYSDOT says the most common type of crashes in work zones are rear-end collisions, and says 662 crashes occurred in New York work zones last year.

NYSDOT spokesman Bryan Viggiani says barriers, narrow lanes and large equipment can prove deadly to a speeding or distracted driver any time of day.

“Be aware of that there are potential hazards,” Viggiani said.

Speed limit signs apply in work zones whether workers are present or not, because of heavy equipment and lane changes that can cause crashes. Viggiani reminds drivers work zone laws apply whether workers are present or not.

In the past five years, NYSDOT reports more than 30 people have died inside work zones, all of them non-construction personnel.

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