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OTA worker injured in construction zone

COTTON COUNTY, Okla._An Oklahoma Turnpike Authority worker is breathing a sigh of relief after a close call in a marked construction zone.

The OTA worker was hit by a traffic cone on I-44 just before 10:00 a.m., near mile marker 26. The Oklahoma Highway Patrol says three cars were entering the construction zone that has been narrowed to a single lane. The first two drivers obeyed a flagger who was holding a "slow down" sign, but the third driver did not. This caused the second car to swerve into the cones to avoid being rear-ended and that's when a cone went flying and hit the worker.

The OTA worker is okay, having only suffered a minor injury to his foot. The situation could have been much worse. Even with three patrol cars, with lights flashing, cars were flying past the flagger and through the work area; some going at least 70 miles per hour.

Lieutenant Roger Peck has been with the Oklahoma Highway Patrol for the last 30 years, and has worked similar accidents with less favorable outcomes.

"Somebody could have very easily gotten killed," Lt. Peck said.

He says drivers speeding through construction zones is something they've been having problems with.

"They're not paying attention to the warning signs, and they're not paying attention to the workers that are out here in their high visibility vests," Lt. Peck explained.

Friday's accident happened in a construction zone that is clearly marked, and the warning signs start at least a mile back.

"They're not slowing down like they're required to by law," Lt. Peck said.

The signs aren't there as a suggestion. Lt. Peck says drivers need to be mindful of the fact that the workers in the construction zones are people too.

"They've all got somebody that cares for them. We care for them. We don't want them to get hurt. We don't want them to get killed just because somebody's not paying attention," Lt. Peck said.

By law, you are required to slow down in a construction zone. Fines for speeding in a work area double, but that cost pales in comparison to the price of taking someone's life.

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