Caution Urged For Drivers In Tulsa Work Zones

Friday, April 3rd 2009, 5:32 pm
By: News On 6

By Emory Bryan, The News On 6

TULSA, OK -- Police say they will be watching drivers in Tulsa work zones but want drivers to also be watching to avoid accidents that kill construction workers.

The state has $426 million worth of stimulus money coming for road work. With more projects comes more danger for the people who do the work.

For Martin Stewart, the issue of safety in a highway construction zone is personal. He's had friends killed on the job.

"I've actually had three good friends of mine that I worked with killed in the last three years here in Tulsa," said Stewart, an employee with the Oklahoma Department of Transportation. "It's been kinda rough."

With the number of work zones increasing every day and more expected from the stimulus package, the likelihood increases that there will be more accidents.

In 2007, 21 people were killed and 685 people were hurt in 1,140 work zone collisions statewide.

That's why officers, troopers and construction workers want drivers to be more careful.

"Just because it doesn't say slow down, be aware if there are construction people out there, they can't watch for you," said Dan Schmidt with Traffic and Lighting Systems. "You have to watch for them."

Schmidt works with a lighting company and is often just steps from speeding cars.

"Until you stand there and watch it, you don't realize you're two feet away from somebody going that fast."

It takes a car moving 55 miles an hour at least 400 feet to stop. In a work zone, there's often not that much room, so any mistake can lead to tragedy.

"People go to their office, they get paper cuts," Stewart said. "Out here, it's life and death. They get run over and killed."

ODOT will start resurfacing part of the Broken Arrow Expressway on Monday morning.

Another major project on the Inner Dispersal Loop will start in about a month.