Construction zones require extra caution

Monday, March 21, 2016

It's the time of year when the ravages of winter make themselves apparent on the surfaces of our streets and highways.

City and state crews and contractors are already out repairing potholes and preparing for heavy summer construction projects.

The projects are an inconvenience to drivers, but they're definitely preferable to the alternative -- the slow decay of one of our most important infrastructures.

A highway construction worker tragically gave his life to keep the highways open in an accident Sunday, according to the Nebraska State Patrol.

John A. Hansen, 42, Lincoln, was a flagman in a construction zone on Highway 94 about two miles east of Walthill when he was struck by a car, pronounced dead at the scene.

The driver of the car, Kenneth R. Gilpin, 31, Walthill, was not injured, but was jailed on a charge of driving under the influence of drugs.

"This is a senseless tragedy. Our thoughts are with family of the deceased and our partners at the Department of Roads," said Lieutenant Colonel Thomas Schwarten. "As we move into the start of road construction season, it is the duty of all drivers to help ensure our road crews stay safe during this very busy time."

Construction workers aren't the only ones in danger, of course, there are hundreds of fatal motor vehicle crashes in work zones every year.

Drivers are reminded to use extra caution in work zones, obey posted speed limits, stay alert and always be prepared by keeping an eye out for workers and equipment.

As an extra incentive to be cautious, Nebraska has a law doubling speeding fines in construction zones.

A few extra dollars shouldn't be a life-or-death difference, but whatever the motive, let's be extra cautious this summer driving season.

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