Construction zone safety important for workers and drivers - KSFY News - Sioux Falls, SD News, Weather, Sports

Construction zone safety important for workers and drivers

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The Highway Patrol says an Oelrichs man was killed in a construction zone crash in southern South Dakota.

Officials say 41-year-old Billy Eisenbraun died Monday morning in a crash on Highway 385 near the Nebraska border.

Troopers say Eisenbraun was driving his pickup around 6:25 a.m. through a construction zone when the vehicle hit a cone and veered into construction equipment.

It's the kind of accident that could happen anywhere as many towns are right in the middle if construction season. In Sioux Falls, it seems orange cones are around every corner.

While construction zones may seem commonplace, it's extremely important for drivers to pay attention, for workers safety and their own.

The South Dakota Department of Transportation says construction zones can be just as dangerous for drivers as it is for workers.

"Anytime you have anything that affects the flow of traffic that's when the chance for a crash increase," said Captain Welsh with SD Highway Patrol.

That's why the DOT spends a lot of time planning for the safety of drivers and workers before they begin a project.

"We spend a lot of time evaluating our projects and what we need to have in place for traffic control devices, to make sure we can get traffic safely through the project and also keep our people safe and the contractors people safe that are working in that project.
," said Greg Fuller with the SD DOT.

Workers say they depend on drivers to keep a close eye on the road while driving through construction zones.

"We're working around big equipment so we're trying to watch for that, working around saws and everything we have to be careful with, so traffic is secondary and sometimes you don't get to pay attention to traffic when you're busy working.," said Ryan Gulbrandson with T & R Construction.

Many construction workers can share stories if close calls on the job site; when you're working so close to moving traffic, all it takes is one wrong move.

"When you're going fast its a split second where you have to react to something," said Gulbrandson.

"Its an avoidable tragedy whenever any construction worker gets hurt and we've had a lot of close calls," said Captain Welsh.

To prevent those close calls, the DOT and Highway Patrol are partnering up.

"We use off duty officers to help with our construction zones and keeping traffic slowed down and enforcing our speed limits through those construction zones," said Fuller.

"For example this construction zone that's here on I-29, in the last 6 days we've written 74 citations in here and all of them are considerably over the limit and i'm not even including all of the warnings and all of the stops," said Captain Welsh.

Slowing down is one of the biggest factors for staying safe in construction zones.

The next is simply paying attention; make sure you're not using youcell phonene so you can keep a close eye on the signs directing traffic through the orange cone zones.
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