A line of TxDOT employees in orange safety vests stood before a memorial to highway workers killed on the job. They held photos of friends they work with, and family members they go home to every day.
TxDOT employee Jeff Volk says they all have stories about close calls in work zones. Volk keeps a crumpled hard hat to remember his.
“I was out on State Highway 146 in a coned-off lane of the freeway, when an 18-wheeler doing 65 miles-per-hour sucked the helmet right off my head, and it banged down the concrete pavement in the draft of that big truck and five or six people ran over it.”
TxDOT says at any given time there are more than a 1,000 work zones on Texas highways. One hundred people were killed in work zone accidents in 2010. That includes both workers and people in vehicles. The Houston area had over 2,800 work zone crashes.
Twenty-one people died.
Harris County Sheriff Adrian Garcia says those wrecks are usually caused by someone who’s been drinking or a driver who’s talking on the phone. He says highway workers already have enough to worry about.
“Construction workers are having to dodge flying debris, tires that come off, tread that comes off other vehicles, rocks that are being clipped by tires, loads that are being lost.”
And Garcia reminds drivers they could face double the usual fine if they’re ticketed in a work zone.