Officials in Iowa are discussing what is going down as one of the busiest in the state in recent memory for road construction. Officials have also said that so far 10 people have died in crashes inside work zones despite the overall number of traffic fatalities in the state dropping for 2017. The total money spent on projects for 2017 was $680 million. Last year saw a record for the state at $695 million.
The 10 deaths that occurred in work zone sites in Iowa for 2017 included three construction workers. It was also the second straight year that there were traffic fatalities in work zones that were above the average. In 2016, 13 people were killed in these zones throughout the state. One of those deaths included a construction worker. Over the last decade the state has averaged 655 accidents in work zones and 6.8 deaths per year.
Officials from the Iowa Department of Transportation (DOT) have named an increase in bridge projects, more miles driven by motorists, distracted driving, speeding and texting while driving as factors that contributed to the high number of accidents.
The state legislature passed a tougher law banning texting while driving that DOT officials believe will help reduce the number of work zone deaths in the state. According to records, the state police have issued 495 citations through the end of October for this offense. This is compared to just 174 in all of 2016.
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Source: Des Moines Register, “Busy year for Iowa road construction nears end with ‘way too many’ deaths in work zones,” Nov. 20, 2017