By Lt. Josh Kellerman
Do I have to obey the work zone signs at night or when workers are not present? The answer is “YES.” This is just one of many questions we get at the Kansas Highway Patrol in reference to work zones in our state. Once an area of roadway is designated as a work zone with the appropriate signage, it remains a work zone until the signs are taken down. In close cooperation with KDOT, the Kansas Highway Patrol strives to help make these work zones safe for our highway workers through education and vigorous enforcement.
Many of these work zones include reduced speeds, lane closures, no passing zones, and flaggers controlling movement within the zone. All of these changes go towards making the work zone safer for our highway workers. But, these roadway adjustments are merely a piece of the puzzle for work zone safety. Work zone safety is heavily dependent on the safe driving responsibility of the motoring public. Oftentimes, vehicles are traveling full speed within feet of our highway workers. These workers are depending on the motoring public to give 100% of their attention while traveling through their zone. When signs simply are not enough to keep the zones safe, rigorous enforcement from law enforcement agencies statewide can help.
When you enter the work zone, you may see a state trooper sitting near the beginning or end of the work zone area. Our hope is that drivers have already seen the work zone signs and have slowed and entered the zone safely. If not, we hope that by our presence, drivers will enter cautiously, safely travel through, and exit the zone. The other option is, as I mentioned before, rigorous enforcement. Most know fines are doubled through work zones, and depending on the infraction, fines climb very quickly for good reason.
The KHP works to patrol these zones day and night, whether workers are present or not. There are also times when we are summoned to problem areas and spend additional time within the zone to help make them safe. Having spent hours and hours within these zones personally, I have seen the types of hazards our highway workers face. Through this enforcement, I have written my fair share of warnings and tickets, each one written in the name of safety.
Safety is something EVERYONE must take seriously, whether you are working on the road, driving on the road, or enforcing the laws that govern the road. For law enforcement, we understand the importance of the work zones and the safety these personnel need to work on our roads. Without the hard work and dedication from our highway workers, Kansans would not get to enjoy some of the best roadways in America.
The Kansas Highway Patrol would like to say a big thank you to all of our highway workers and express our deep appreciation for the hard work they do.
Lt. Josh Kellerman is with the Kansas Highway Patrol