'Please slow down': Valley construction crews call for safer driving in work zones

1 year 10 months 1 week ago Sunday, April 17 2022 Apr 17, 2022 April 17, 2022 11:38 AM April 17, 2022 in News - Local

As construction continues around the Valley, traffic is making drivers slow down.

Distracted driving is a serious danger for the men and women who work in construction, and a very real situation for Zebedee Suarez, a traffic control technician and father who's working in this construction zone.

RELATED: TxDOT urges drivers to be alert around construction zones  

"I've seen a lot of people distracted lately due to telephones or just not paying attention," Suarez said.

Working with the worry that one split-second decision can affect his life, Suarez wants people to know what he goes through. One day at the end of a shift, they were packing up along FM 1015, and a car blew into the construction zone and nearly clipped him.

"I was in between my truck and a trailer getting my chains to tie down the equipment, and as I turn back, I see a car just zoom by fast,” Suarez said. “I looked to my co-worker that was flagging at the moment, and he said they didn't even acknowledge him. They just took off through the work zone."

The Texas Department of Transportation says deadly crashes in work zones claimed 60 more people in 2021 than the year before. TxDOT reported 244 deaths, a 33 percent increase.

Speeding and not paying attention were the biggest factors.

"Their job is dangerous because you have fast-moving vehicles within feet of where they are," said Ray Pedraza, a spokesperson for TxDOT.

The rule when you're in a work zone: If you see the lights ahead, move over or slow down.

"To move over one lane or to reduce their speed by 20 miles an hour under the posted speed limit, whenever there is an emergency vehicle present, a TxDOT vehicle present, a tow truck, any utility vehicle that is on the side of the road with the lights on," Pedraza said.

It's a request from the people who are standing inches from high-speed traffic.

"Please slow down if you see any construction going on," Suarez said. "Do it not only for us, but for yourself, as well, because at the end of the day, we all want to get home."

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