ST. LOUIS (KMOX) – Personal pleas from family members of two transportation workers killed in work zones started Work Zone Safety Week in the St. Louis area Monday.
At a news conference under the Poplar Street Bridge, Jamey Hahne and Josie Beard tried to convince motorists that a phone call or text is not worth a life.
Hahne’s father, MoDOT employee Lyndon Ebker, was struck and killed on Highway 100 in Franklin County a year ago last week. He said highway workers are parents, spouses and best friends.
“Imagine taking them away from their loved ones because you were distracted, talking on your phone or just in a hurry. It only takes seconds of inattention to cost somebody their life,” Hahne said.
Josie Beard’s husband, Dennis, was killed five years ago while setting up traffic control for IDOT on Interstate 64.
“I can assure you the amount of time it takes to slow down and proceed through a construction zone safely, will not take near as long as it will to recover from losing a loved one or having to live with knowing you have taken someone’s loved one,” Beard said.
Both MoDOT and IDOT officials say they will be stepping up efforts to keep workers and motorists safe in work zones. MoDOT District Engineer Greg Horn said motorists should expect to see signs that show you exactly how much money your speeding could cost you.
IDOT District-8 Acting Project Implementation Engineer Lora Rensing said her agency will be installing more portable rumble strips approaching work zones, adding photo enforcement vans and expanding smart work zone technology.
“This technology uses sensors to communicate real-time traffic information and delays to motorists though the use of digital message boards,” she said.
Last year in Missouri, eight people died in work zone accidents. More than 1,000 were hurt in Illinois accidents.
According to Horn, 2016 was the first year inattentive driving was the leading cause of accidents in Missouri.