GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Last year, nearly 4,000 crashes happened in Michigan construction zones, 200 of which took place in Kent County.
This year, Michigan State Police are stepping up their patrols to curb that statistic.
“There will be no warnings. This truly is your warning – the educational component to letting you know that we are going to be out there. We will be aggressively enforcing the law in traffic zones this year. So if you get stopped, you can expect to get a ticket,” said 1st Lt. Chris McIntire.
He says the two fatal crashes in construction zones last year were caused by distracted driving.
“That really is what we see the majority of the time in construction zones, is people weren’t paying attention. And they get into those zones and the traffic creeps up on them because it’s slowing down and crashes happen,” McIntire said.
“They need to put down their phone, the drink, the food they are eating, and need to take their foot off the accelerator and slow down,” said Jerry Byrne, deputy managing director for the Kent County Road Commission.
MSP works with the Michigan Department of Transportation and the Kent County Road Commission to place officers in construction zones to try to reduce the number of crashes.
“Regardless of if it’s a multiple lane closure on a highway system with hundreds of barrels and cones and signs or if it’s a single vehicle with amber flashing or green flashing light with one gentleman out filling a pothole, it’s a construction zone and they need to put their full driving attention on driving,” Byrne said.
And if you think slowing down takes too much of your time, think again. The county road commission has crunched the numbers and determined dropping your speed from 70 to 45 miles per hour in a construction zone will cost you only 28 seconds a mile.
“If you think you’re that important, (that) you can’t give up 28 seconds, you probably shouldn’t be on the road. The life you save may be your own,” Byrne added.