Drive with caution and care in work zones

SPRING HAS BEEN ON and off – and on and off again – in these parts so far. But one season that is on – and will stay on for quite some time to come – is road construction season.

The orange cones, barrels and caution signs are up all across the county and the state as needed road work projects are underway. Drivers are already dealing with narrowed lanes, lane shifts, temporary pavements, reduced speeds and congestion caused by these projects.

They are also dealing with the men and women working on those road projects.

This week has been declared Work Zone Awareness Week in Wisconsin, but that should really be every week as long as any road work is going on.

There are an average of 10 fatalities and more than 750 injuries a year in construction zone accidents in Wisconsin – and an average of more than 1,600 construction zone crashes a year. Last year alone, three highway workers were killed in work zone crashes in the state of Wisconsin.

“Please remember that the workers who are doing their jobs close to traffic want to go home to their loved ones just like you do,” Wisconsin Department of Transportation Secretary Mark Gottlieb reminds all drivers this week.

While road construction is an annoyance, it is also a necessity and, in the long run, a benefit.

It can not be avoided. While roads and streets are built for the long haul, they are not – nor can they be – built for perpetuity. They do eventually wear down or wear out, or need upgrading or improvement for safety and other reasons, and when they do we all are left to deal with the impacts of repairing, upgrading or replacing them.

Nobody likes the inconvenience of road construction and the attendant detours and delays – especially in summer, when so many people are eager to get on their way to vacations, picnics, the beach and other fun outings.

But all those things we’re going to this summer will still be there after we get through the detours, delays and traffic backups created by road work.

There are many ways to become aware of what kind of road work lays ahead on any road trip this summer, whether it’s on the internet or through the weekly updates printed in The Review and other local media.

It only takes a little advanced planning to adjust schedules to cope with road work and still reach a destination on time.

If it saves even one life and prevents one accident in a work zone, it is more than worth the extra time and effort.

It may cost you a little more time to slow down, use caution and be attentive in construction zones, but the cost of not doing so is so much greater.

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