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National Work Zone Awareness Week starts Monday. It's a good time to remember the importance of keeping road workers — as well as yourself — safe in the state's work zones.

What do you need to do? It's not rocket science. Just slow down, put your phone down and pay attention as you drive through work zones.

This month is when we start to see warmer weather, more traveling, and more road and bridge projects.

Watch for warning signs and to merge before reaching lane closures. Also, be aware of changing traffic conditions. Traffic could slow or stop unexpectedly, traffic lanes can merge, or equipment and workers can enter the roadway. Be aware and be prepared to slow down.

This year, the Missouri Highway Patrol and the Missouri Department of Transportation are heading up Operation PROTECT (Patrol Response Operation To Enforcement of Construction zone Traffic) The enforcement projects, scheduled for Monday and Wednesday, are an effort to raise awareness about work zone safety.

"Last year in Missouri, 27 people died and another 661 people were injured in crashes taking place in a work zone," said Col. Eric T. Olson, superintendent of the Missouri Highway Patrol, in a news release.

He said drivers have less room to react in work zones because they may be narrowed to accommodate construction.

Operation PROTECT identifies and prioritizes construction/work zones with critical issues or problems affecting highway safety through complaints from the public, highway/construction workers, law enforcement, and emergency responders, and takes into account recent crash statistics.

The operation establishes a zero- tolerance enforcement policy, directing troopers to take appropriate action on all observed traffic violations in construction/work zones by issuing uniform citations or warnings.

Each year, both workers and motorists are injured or killed needlessly in work zones. Do your part to pay attention, slow down and make sure Missouri's work zones are safe for everyone.

News Tribune

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