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Police urge drivers to pay attention in work zones

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ROANOKE (WSLS10)-- The Department of Transportation is reminding drivers to be on alert in honor of Work Zone Safety Awareness Week.

The awareness week emphasizes the risks of distracted driving, especially near work zones. Last year alone, there were more than 2,600 work zone crashes in Virginia, killing seven people and hurting more than 1,000 others.

"As the drivers are going through, they're not watching their speed," says Roanoke City's traffic safety officer, Rick Clark. "If they're not watching their speed, they're not paying attention to what they're doing. In most cases, they're travelling 65 mph and doing 5 miles above the speed limit, which is dangerous for everyone."

VDOT is urging everyone to wear orange today in support of the cause. Governor McAuliffe and the First Lady will be lighting the mansion in orange today to show their support.

Here are some tips from VDOT to help increase safety as you drive to work:

  • Expect the unexpected.Keep an eye out for workers and slow-moving equipment.
  • Follow the signs.Signs and flaggers will direct you through the work zone. Expect changes in traffic patterns as the project progresses.
  • Don't tailgate.Unexpected stops frequently occur in work zones.
  • Don't speed.Enhanced fines of up to $500 may be levied for speeding in a work zone.
  • Focus your full attention on the road and those traveling around you.
  • Never change lanes in the work zone.
  • Minimize distractions.Avoid changing radio stations and using phones.
  • Be patient.Crews are working to improve the safety and comfort of your travels.
  • Know before you go.Call 511 for up-to-the-minute traffic and weather information from any phone in Virginia. Before you travel, log on to 511Virginia.org for road and traffic conditions, weather forecasts and live traffic cameras on many major highways.