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ODOT on a mission to reduce worker deaths

Michael Poahway (Source KSWO) Michael Poahway (Source KSWO)
(Source KSWO) (Source KSWO)
(Source KSWO) (Source KSWO)

DUNCAN, OK (KSWO) -Over the past five years, 84 people have been killed in work zones throughout the state of Oklahoma.

The Oklahoma Department of Transportation is on a mission to reduce that number. Monday, April 4, they launched a public safety campaign that will include digital highway messages and public service announcements to remind drivers of upcoming work zones.

Ten years ago, a drunk driver hit and killed Lucinda Poahway’s husband, while he was working in a work zone along I-44 in Missouri. She says the driver was just 22 years old and had been out celebrating with family; a decision that's forever changed the life of Poahway and her family.

"I don't have my husband, my [grand]children don't have a grandfather, my children don't have a dad. Our lives changed at holidays and graduations and weddings," said Poahway.

Poahway says the work zone her husband was killed in had all the proper signage to warn drivers about the construction work, but it didn't make a difference for her husband.

"They did have orange cones up, they did have signs, everything was there, but in his state and condition he just hit him and killed him instantly,” said Poahway.

She says the driver was going around 45 to 50 mph when he hit her husband.

ODOT engineer Jerry Harwell says while there are some things that the public safety campaign can't control, the state is trying to make drivers more aware of workers on the side of the highway and ways to help keep them safe.

"Make sure people are aware of construction zones, look for the signs. When you see those signs, you need to start slowing down, backing off the car in front of them and pay attention," says Harwell.

Poahway says while it's been a tough few years, she'd like to remind drivers traveling through work zones of this one thing…

"I think that if the public understood the safety and regulations are not just to slow them down and take a part of their lives, but to actually save lives," she said.

ODOT says the public awareness campaign will last for two months, but the safety measures that are put in place will remain after the campaign ends.

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