Cheyenne, WY. – A close call in a bridge construction zone on Interstate 80 near Cheyenne last year could have been much worse.

When a tractor trailer driver didn’t slow down his vehicle from 75 mph to the reduced construction zone speed, he temporarily lost control of his vehicle, which partially drove up on a concrete barrier.

Luckily, no workers were working close to the incident when it happened.

“There was cement dust flying everywhere,” said Ethan Crockett, WYDOT engineer in Cheyenne. “The contractors were running to get away. The driver apparently didn’t slow down. There were tire marks on the concrete barrier 18 inches to 2-feet high.”

With April 9-13 National Work Zone Awareness Week, the Wyoming Department of Transportation wants to remind motorists to follow posted speed limits, pay attention and not drive distracted when entering construction zones.

While the number of crashes in work zones are down over the past five years in Wyoming, these events still make up more than 200 crashes per year, for a total of 1,271. More than 30 percent of those crashes led to injuries or fatalities.

Construction season in Wyoming can start as early as April but typically gets under way in May. WYDOT will have construction along interstates 80, 25 and 90, and secondary highways.

“Our main goal out there is to keep the traveling public and everyone safe,” said Kevin Erickson, resident engineer in Cheyenne. “We’re out there working alongside of the traveling public. We want to establish traffic control, so they can maneuver through the site safely.”

Work zones are designed to separate traffic from construction activities so workers and drivers are safe. Although the lanes are narrower, they are wide enough to safely accommodate traffic.

WYDOT also posts safety signs before construction sites to alert motorists of upcoming work. In work zones, motorists may see traffic cones, concrete barriers, flaggers, reduced speed signs and other safety-related measures.

“Every work zone is different so you really need to pay attention to what’s on the signs,” Erickson said. “The configurations vary from site to site. The important thing is to just slow down when you’re in construction zones. There are a lot of people out there working. We want everyone to go home safe.”

When traveling in or near work zones, motorists should:

Plan ahead and give themselves extra time to reach their destinations.
Slow down and follow speed limit signs.
Pay attention to other drivers.
Don’t drive distracted.
Wear their seat belts.
Visit WYDOT’s 511 website at wyoroad.info for the latest road and travel information.