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MDOT urges drivers to slow down, put phones away after fatal crashes

Increase in crashes and fatalities comes as MDOT reports decrease in traffic volumes

DETROIT – It’s been a deadlier than normal year for Michigan’s roads, which is surprising since many Michiganders aren’t driving that much during the stay-at-home orders.

As of September, 730 people have died on Michigan roads.

Some of those deaths have been construction workers, including two this week. That’s why the Michigan Department of Transportation is urging residents to slow down and pay attention in work zones.

“These are your neighbors out working,” said Bill Erben. "Think about their families.

Erben is a construction manager with MDOT and he knows he can’t stop drivers from using their phones when they drive, but he’s asking that they at least put them away in construction zones.

“We really trust people who are driving to keep us safe. We’ve all seen folks texting on the phones while driving,” Erben said. “As much as we all love cell phones, please do not look at your phone and focus on getting through construction zones safely. Just one quick loss of attention and you’re off the road and somebody is dead.”

That’s what happened Monday when Zachery Morisette was struck and killed while replacing a manhole cover on I-94 near Nine Mile Road. Martin Smith, 51, was arraigned Friday in connection with the collision.

Another deadly crash happened Thursday near Lansing. Jeremy Zeitz was struck and killed while working on Sherwood Highway over I-69 in Eaton County.

“It’s a pretty tight-knit community so when one road worker gets killed, then we all know about it,” said Erben. “We all think about the many hours we spend out here and how tragic it really is.”

MDOT said each job has a number of barrels and message boards to try and get information to drivers to slow down, but all it takes is for one driver to not get that message for tragedy to strike.


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