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Ask a Trooper: Work zone safety

Question: Once in a while I hear about safety in work zones, like road construction zones. How many workers are actually hurt or killed in them in Minnesota and how many crashes are there in work zones? Do we know really?

Answer: Yes, we do know! At the end of 2013, I saw some statistics that you are asking about. The Department of Public Safety reports that in the past five years there were 11,485 work zone crashes, resulting in 4,833 injuries and 54 fatalities (including two worker deaths). The 2013 data is preliminary so, as data continues to come in, these numbers could go even higher.

The problem with work zones is that too many drivers are not paying attention and they are driving too fast. When you see cones, barricades, barrels, signs, work trucks, etc., you need to slow down immediately and start “reading the scene.” You may have to reduce your speed greatly or switch lanes, or even stop. Most drivers wait until the last second to take action and that’s too late. You need to be looking ahead and watching for all kinds of hazards.

As summer approaches, you will see more and more work zones as you travel. Be careful, pay attention and slow down. Thanks for asking.

If you have any questions for future columns concerning motor vehicle traffic in Minnesota, please send your questions to: “ASK A TROOPER” c/o Sgt. Curt S. Mowers, Minnesota State Patrol, 7694 Industrial Park Road, Suite 2 Baxter, MN 6425 or email questions to with Ask a Trooper in the subject line. Questions are edited.