The Mississippi Department of Transportation is drawing special attention this week-- to Highway Worker Safety. MDOT crews work only feet away from vehicles traveling at high speeds and officials want motorists and workers to know the importance of how to navigate a work zone safely. MPB's Jasmine Ellis reports.
Officials in Mississippi are honoring the legacy of highway workers who lost their lives while building and maintaining the state's transportation systems with a wreath laying ceremony this week. Melinda McGrath is executive director of the Mississippi Department of Transportation or MDOT. She says there are more than 3,000 employees working across the state. And almost 75 percent of these employees work in the field alongside traffic.
"Today's ceremony is a solem one but it proves us an opportunity to reflect and remember our colleagues and their families and friends," said McGrath. "It is also an opportunity to remind everyone to be more aware of sacrifices made by these state workers as they do their daily jobs."
Central District Transportation Commissioner Dick Hall says workers are getting hurt or killed because drivers are paying more attention to their cell phones and not the road. He says drivers need to slow down when going through highway work zones.
"If you just take your eyes off the highway for just seconds, and you're going 60 miles an hour, you're not going to be able to slow down or stop if something unexpected happens," said Hall. "So you've got to be looking at the highway not at your cell phone."
The Department of Transportation says since 1951, 45 MDOT employees have died performing their jobs.