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Construction Zones Increasingly Deadly For Oklahoma Road Workers

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A woman in a pickup dragged a construction worker to his death two-and-a-half weeks ago at 51st and Memorial. A woman in a pickup dragged a construction worker to his death two-and-a-half weeks ago at 51st and Memorial.
Several groups joined together Friday to ask drivers to pay more attention in construction zones. Several groups joined together Friday to ask drivers to pay more attention in construction zones.
As the weather warms, more and more work zones will be popping up. As the weather warms, more and more work zones will be popping up.
TULSA, Oklahoma -

As road construction ramps up, the Oklahoma Department of Transportation and the Highway Patrol are asking drivers to watch out in work zones to protect emergency and construction workers who are on the front lines.

At Interstate 44 and Lewis, construction workers are busy rebuilding the highway. The site is one of six major ODOT work zones in northeastern Oklahoma and that doesn't count routine maintenance, or even city and county projects.

"We see far too many crashes because drivers are not paying attention," said Captain George Brown, spokesman for the Oklahoma Highway Patrol.

The Oklahoma Highway Patrol, along with ODOT and construction companies took to the podium Friday to remind drivers that lives are at risk each and every time you drive through a work zones.

"You never know when one's going to come through, you never turn your back on traffic," said Benita Leigh.

Benita Leigh works for the Turnpike Authority and is often in the middle of work zone. She says drivers seem to be doing anything but paying attention when they come across the orange traffic barrels.

"Everything from putting on makeup to reading books to talking on the cell phone, texting," she said.

It's not limited to highway projects. Patrick Boyle, 59, was killed about two weeks ago at 51st and Memorial. The Becco Contractors employee was dragged nearly 25 feet by a woman who says she thought she hit a traffic cone.

3/27/2013 Related Story: Tulsa Police Identify Construction Worker Killed By Pickup

The folks at Becco say slowing down from 65mph to 45 mph in a two-mile long work zone will cost you 45 seconds of drive time. A small sacrifice, they say, that could save lives.

Sixteen people died in highway work zone crashes last year in Oklahoma, that's a 78 percent increase over the last decade. Road workers want that number at zero and hope drivers realize how important it is to slow down in a work zone.

"I have a 3-year-old little girl I go home to every night, that's what they need to think about because I'm not the only one who has people to go home to," said Bobby Wood, Turnpike Authority.

The Highway Patrol reminds everyone that fines double in work zones, and if you're found guilty of killing a worker in a construction zone you could face a fine of up to $10,000 and spend up to 10 years in the state pen.

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