TxDOT reminds drivers of 'work zone' dangers

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GRAYSON COUNTY, TX -- Drivers fly by topping 70 mph on Hwy 82. And for some Texas workers, these cars speed right through the middle of their office.

Thomas Jones, area manager for R.K. Hall Construction, said they face danger every day.

"It's not uncommon every month that somebody tells a story of just being within inches of a car hitting them," he said.

In 2008, TxDOT employee Delbert Lynn Gann was part of a crew working along Hwy 82, when he was hit and killed by a vehicle.

Authorities say 31-year-old Cody Wayne Ridgeway was entering the highway when he swerved into the center barrier.

Ridgeway was convicted of criminal negligent homicide in 2010 and received five years probation.

"We don't want to respond to these crashes where an employee of the state or a contractor with one of his employees has been hurt just trying to do their job," said DPS Trooper Mark Tackett.

TxDOT kicks off National Work Zone Awareness Week Monday, urging drivers to stay cautious and alert driving through work zones.

The agency says more than 14,000 work zone crashes happened in 2011, resulting in 115 deaths.

"I wish we didn't have to have an awareness week, I wish every day during the year folks would be aware of work zones," said Paul Montgomery, area engineer.

Tackett reminds drivers to slow down, stay off cell-phones, give works plenty of room and pay attention.

"These people are out there trying to make our roads better. These construction crews and the workers for TxDOT and the contractors are there trying to make a better path for us to drive on," he said.

TxDOT says four out of five people killed in work zone crashes are motorists not workers.

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