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Work Zone Crashes Increase Despite Decrease in Road and Highway Traffic during COVID-19 Pandemic

Jefferson City residents, Cole County citizens, and other mid-Missourians, much like those living in other parts of the country, have significantly shifted their driving habits during the Covid-19 pandemic. Children’s sports practices and games were canceled, restaurant reservations postponed, and trips to grandma and grandpa’s house were put on hold while the number of people working from home went through the roof. Simply put, the roads and highways in Missouri have been less crowded over the past year. One might think a decrease in the number of Americans driving to work and running errands every day would naturally lead to a decrease in motor vehicle crashes, collisions, and accidents. Fortunately, car crashes, vehicle wrecks, and head-on collisions decreased amidst the drop in traffic on U.S. roads. Unfortunately, fatal work zone crashes in some states, including Missouri, actually increased.

 

Eighteen (18) people were killed in work zone crashes in Missouri in 2019 while twenty-three (23) people died from incidents in work zones in only the first nine months of 2020. Researchers believe the rise in fatal incidents is tied to an increase in road repair and maintenance during the pandemic. The Missouri Department of Transportation (MODOT) understandably tried to turn a negative – the pandemic – into a positive – fixing highways during a time with less traffic on the roads. Tragically, driving habits including speeding and texting and driving have increased as Missourians attempt to “make up for lost time,” with work zone employees suffering the consequences.

 

Thankfully, hope is on the horizon. The Missouri legislature recently passed “Lyndon’s Law” and shortly thereafter Missouri Governor Mike Parson signed the legislation into law. Lyndon’s Law effectively permits the state to revoke the driver’s license of anyone who strikes an emergency responder in an emergency zone or a highway or utility worker in a work zone. The law is named for Lyndon Ebker, a DOT worker killed in a work zone collision in Franklin County, Missouri in 2016. Lyndon’s law is obviously not the sole solution to the problem, but it is a start. Bolstered by awareness campaigns like Buckle Up Phone Down, You Drink, You Drive, You Lose, and Give ‘em a Break, Lyndon’s Law will hopefully serve as an additional reminder for Missourian’s to drive safe, slow down, and to pay extra close attention while driving through work zones.

 

If you have been injured or if a loved one was killed in a work zone incident, or other motor vehicle collision, truck crash, or car wreck, give our team at Call & Gentry a call to assess your options, to hold the responsible parties accountable, and to make sure your legal rights are protected.

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