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Officials announce crackdown on distracted driving in work zones

Last year, there were 889 crashes in West Virginia work zones, killing five people and injuring more than 300.
Published: Apr. 12, 2022 at 3:12 PM EDT
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BRIDGEPORT, W.Va (WDTV) - Drivers will see an increased police presence in West Virginia work zones this highway construction season, leaders with the West Virginia Department of Transportation and several law enforcement agencies announced at an event at the State Capitol recognizing Work Zone Awareness Week.

“We are going to do everything that we can to meet our goal of zero lives lost on our highways and zero lives lost in our work zones,” said WVDOT Secretary Jimmy Wriston, P.E. “This is a united front with our partners in law enforcement. We’re serious about this. The days of talking your way out of these tickets are over, and the fines you’ll face in work zones are doubled.”

Last year, there were 889 crashes in West Virginia work zones, killing five people and injuring more than 300.

With Gov. Jim Justice recently announcing that the 2022 highway construction season is in line to be the busiest year of roadwork in state history, efforts to crack down on speeding and distracted driving in work zones will also reach new heights.

“We have a lot of road projects in West Virginia this year. It’s going to be an aggressive year thanks to the Governor’s Roads To Prosperity program,” said WVDOT Spokesperson Randy Damron. “Each one of those projects is a work zone. So the message today is that there’s going to be a lot of work zones around the state and people need to slow down.”

During the 2022 highway construction season, law enforcement will be issuing tickets in work zones throughout West Virginia. Police will be targeting work zones on Interstate 70, Interstate 68, Interstate 64, Interstate 77, Interstate 79, and Interstate 81 throughout the season.

“I want to let everyone know that we will be out there. We will be issuing citations,” said Matt Epling, Enforcement Officer, Public Service Commission of West Virginia. “We look forward to working with our partner agencies while continuing to enforce traffic laws within these construction zones to make the roadway safer for the traveling public, as well as the men and women that are making repairs to our roads, because one life lost is one too many.”

On average, 85% of the people who die in work zone crashes are drivers or passengers of the vehicles involved in the wreck.

Between 2017 and 2021, West Virginia saw 21 fatal crashes in work zones, just over 1% of all roadway fatalities.

The WVDOT has made significant investments in cameras, road sensors, message boards, and other tools to urge drivers to reduce speeds and pay attention.

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