Construction season is here, INDOT warns of major road projects

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SOUTH BEND As the weather continues to warm up, drivers will see more construction crews on the roadways. The Indiana Department of Transportation is using this week- Work Zone Awareness Week- to remind drivers to slow down and be on the lookout for workers.

Since 2010, 47 people have been killed in work zone accidents and thousands of others have been injured. Of those fatalities, four out of five were the drivers or their passengers.

To keep the roadways safe, INDOT is reminding people of the stiff fines associated with reckless driving in a work zone. Tickets range from $1,000-$10,000, plus jail time for hitting a worker.

"The majority of the accidents in these work zones are rear enders," said Matt Deitchley, from INDOT. "That's because people aren't paying attention."

A 33 year veteran of INDOT says he's seen everything from property damage to death on the roadway. He hopes this season, more people will slow down.

"If they would just think it's their loved one that was working on the highway, and if they drove through that work zone and it was their brother, their sister, their mom, their dad," said Kevin Johnston, "wouldn't they slow down for them? We're just asking for the same respect. Slow down, give us a break, let us do our job. We're out there to serve you."

The next big project that will affect city drivers in South Bend is the new US-31. Lanes will be restricted most of the summer. INDOT advises finding alternate routes.

"It's important to slow down and be alert in those construction zones because people are out there working really close to traffic and it's dangerous," said Deitchley. "It's also dangerous for the drivers and their passengers, too."

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