OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – As this year’s work zone safety awareness campaign wrapped up, Oklahoma Transportation and Turnpike Authority workers are pleading for drivers to pay attention, especially in work zones.
“These people have families, they have kids, mothers, you know, fathers,” said Jeremy Smart, an OTA employee. “So, if you see flashing lights, just slow down.”
On Friday, OTA and ODOT workers gathered for a ceremony to wrap up this year’s campaign, titled “Safety: It’s Not Just About You.” A handful of them recounted their scary experiences.
Darin Manley, along with two other ODOT workers, were parked in a work zone, about to get of out of their vehicle about a month ago when suddenly a woman slammed into it at nearly 70 mph.
“It was kind of like being hit by lightning and everything happened so fast,” said Manley. “Apparently she was watching a video or something and on her phone and she didn’t even see that we were there.”
Smart and another OTA worker, Kenny Baker, said they also had a near death experience earlier this year.
“It was so close that a guy working on another ramp had called my my boss and said, ‘Hey, Jeremy and Kenny are both dead,'” said Smart.
Fortunately, all three men survived. However, in the past five years, 91 people, including one ODOT worker, were killed and 1,455 people were injured in more than 8,000 collisions in Oklahoma work zones, according to the OTA.
As more than 275 ODOT and OTA work zones planned for the summer construction season this year, the workers, along with Oklahoma Secretary of Transportation, Tim Gatz, say it’s especially important to stay alert.
“There will be numerous short term work zones for highway maintenance affecting traffic on a daily basis,” said Gatz. “All motorists be cautious, courteous.”