NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Last year 23 people died in crashes in Tennessee work zones.
And this Work Zone Awareness Week, members of the NewsChannel 5 team wore orange to help TDOT urge drivers to slow down and pay attention.
Moving over isn't just for workers' safety, the life you save could be your own.
TDOT has lost 112 employees in the line of duty, but data show 70% of work zone fatalities in Tennessee aren't the workers in the construction zone. Most of the time they're people in the cars involved in the crash, and even some pedestrians.
Traffic Anchor Rebecca Schleicher spoke with TDOT Maintenance supervisor Sammy Tucker, who spends his days in work zones. His stories of crashes and close calls are chilling.
"I can remember one work zone we were doing some paving… and we heard something sliding. It was a big box (truck) and actually had a car door in it. We had to step forward and it slid right by us. Had it not, it probably would have taken two or three of us out," he said, continuing, "I've had trailer trucks that run over the cones. The cones are the only barrier between us and them, and they were over so far they were knocking cones over."
He says so many folks behind the wheel aren't looking, and don't notice the bright yellow trucks and cones.
"When traffic comes by so fast that you can feel the wind off of 'em you're close. You're really close," he said.
And Tucker says the pandemic has made matters worse. With traffic picking back up he says he's noticed more drivers seem agitated than ever before, which can lead dangerous and aggressive behavior behind the wheel.
Work Zone Awareness Week is a national initiative every spring, as construction picks up during the warmer months.