You won’t find nine-year-old Kooper Lackman’s favorite superhero in the pages of a comic book or on the big screen. But drive along a highway in mid-Missouri, and you might spot him in reflective yellow and orange.
"My favorite superhero is my dad," Kooper said of Missouri Department of Transportation maintenance worker Jason Lackman. And he wants everyone who drives by his dad to know what’s at stake:
"Slow down, or you could hit my dad and he wouldn’t come home at night."
Kooper isn’t alone in his plea to Missouri drivers. With the start of a busy construction season and National Work Zone Awareness Week coming up April 8-12, MoDOT reminds motorists to slow down and avoid distractions when driving through work zones.
"When I leave, my littlest one runs up to me and says, ‘Go out and keep people safe, Dad,’" said MoDOT maintenance worker Brandon Smith. "That makes you feel good. You kind of become a superhero."
But MoDOT employees aren’t the only people capable of heroics in work zones. In conjunction with National Work Zone Awareness Week, MoDOT is urging drivers to "be your own hero" — buckle up and put your phone down in work zones (or anywhere, for that matter). The life you save may be your own.
MoDOT also advises motorists to observe warning signs and merge before reaching lane closures. 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.
Work zone safety is a serious matter. Check out these current statistics:
In 2018, 13 people were killed in Missouri work zone crashes, and distracted driving remains a leading contributor.
Between 2014 and 2018, 54 people were killed and 3,248 people were injured in work zone crashes in Missouri.
Since 2000, 19 MoDOT employees have been killed in the line of duty, 13 of them taking place in work zones.
The best defense in a work zone crash, or any crash, is a seat belt. In 2018, 62 percent of vehicle occupant fatalities were not wearing a seat belt.
To help make your travel safer, visit MoDOT’s Traveler Information map at http://www.traveler.modot.org/map and find out what work zones you’ll encounter before you go. Motorists can comment on the quality of MoDOT’s work zones online athttps://www.modot.org/work-zone-customer-survey. For information on work zone safety and a list of high impact work zones across the state, visit https://www.modot.org/work-zone-awareness.