Lansing, Mich. (WLNS) — Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) officials say while there may be fewer motorists on the roads, the number of road and work zone fatalities are on the rise. The increase in crashes and fatalities comes at a time when the department is reporting a 20-percent decrease in overall statewide traffic volumes due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
As of September, 730 people have died on Michigan roads. That’s an increase of 58 deaths compared to this time last year. Most recently, vehicles struck three on-the-job road workers, killing two of them.
On Monday, Sept. 21, Zachery Morisette, a 26-year old Macomb County Department of Roads employee, was struck and killed while replacing a manhole cover on I-94 near 9 Mile Road in Macomb County.
On Thursday, Sept. 24, Jeremy Zeitz, a 40-year old road worker from Gladwin, was struck and killed while working on Sherwood Highway over I-69 in Eaton County.
“We are deeply saddened by these recent road worker fatalities. These workers had families and friends who loved and will miss them immensely,” State Transportation Director Paul C. Ajegba said. “As we begin our Rebuilding Michigan bonding program aimed at catching up with years of our state’s underinvestment in roads, you can expect a great deal of work on highways across the state. We implore you to slow down and drive through work zones as if it was your own workplace.”
According to Michigan Law, Public Act 103, also known as Andy’s Law (2001), the law creates penalties of up to one year in prison for injuring and up to 15 years in prison for killing a highway construction or maintenance worker. it also imposes a maximum fine of $7,500.
As a reminder, motorists should always slow down, follow all posted signs, be alert, and remain calm when driving through a work zone.
RELATED: MDOT Employee Memorial
In 2018, 15 people died and an estimated 1,972 were injured in work zone crashes in Michigan. It only takes a split second of distraction to dramatically change lives forever.
The Clare Welcome Center Employee Memorial is a way for people to remember and pay tribute to MDOT employees and other highway workers all over Michigan who lost their lives building transportation systems.
The memorial is located at the Clare Welcome Center on US-127 in Clare County.
Learn more about work zone safety at www.Michigan.gov/WorkZoneSafety.