Drivers approaching work zones on Missouri highways might encounter an attention-grabbing warning as they come up on work crews.
The Missouri Department of Transportation is using a directional “Long Range Acoustic Device” to deliver a high-pitched warble, followed by a warning “slow vehicles ahead” that will reach people 600 to 700 feet away in approaching vehicles.
MoDOT has two of the devices they’ll be deploying along with moving operations in work zones to try to prevent accidents.
They announced the new devices April 7 as part of public service campaign to raise awareness of road construction and maintenance that can be hazardous to MoDOT workers and to motorists alike. With warmer weather, more projects will be getting underway. April 7-11 is National Work Zone Awareness Week.
The sound heard by workers will be within safety guidelines, but the directional sound beam is powerful enough to make a loud and clear warning to motorists even in a well-insulated vehicle with the radio turned on.
The acoustic devices are part of an effort to alert people who are texting and driving. MoDOT demonstrated the device for media at its Kansas City District Headquarters in Lee’s Summit.
“Even though the trucks are lit up like Christmas trees and still (drivers texting) don’t look up,” said Chris Redline, assistant district engineer for Kansas City District. “Slow down and pay attention when you approach a work zone, you don’t know what to expect.”
Work zones can include moving operations such as striping, patching, or mowing, or temporary lane closures for quick repairs or removing debris from the highway as well as construction projects.
Sgt. Collin Stosberg, a public information officer for Missouri State Highway Patrol, said the top two contributors to work-zone accidents are speed and inattention.
He said the MHP wants to remind motorists to watch out for work zones and to move over to a lane to create a safe space.
The best defense in a work-zone crash is to wear a seatbelt, he said, in 2013, 63 percent of vehicle occupant fatalities were not wearing a seat belt.
In 2013, eight people were killed in work zones and sevent people in 2012. Between 2009 and 2013 53 people were killed and 2,781 were injured in Missouri Work Zones. Since 2000, 16 MoDOT employees have been killed in the line of duty, including Clifton Scott, a motorist assist operator killed on Interstate 70 in Sept. 2012.
MoDOT vehicles were added to the “Move Over” law in 2012, requiring vehicles passing emergency vehicles on the sides of highways to change lanes if possible to give room to workers, or at least slow down if they cannot change lanes.
More information can be found at www.modot.org and for daily Work Zones go to http://www.modot.org/kansascity/Roadwork/Road_zones.htm.