Highway engineers and construction workers say, in a perfect world, they would be able to shut down a road to accommodate a construction crew.
However, this is seldom possible.
Often at least one lane remains open during most construction projects. While that policy results in less inconvenience for drivers, it raises the danger level for construction workers.
That's why Mississippi Department of Transportation supervisors and staff have joined with road agencies throughout the country to recognize April 19-23 as National Work Zone Awareness Week.
"Our safety concerns are paramount at this time. We have an increase of accidents from the motoring public involving our employees," said Willie McClelland, MDOT supervisor. "So we have a great concern as far as safety is concerned. If the public would only acquire certain safety procedures. Cell phones are a problem. Really paying attention to what you're doing behind the steering wheel would help us a lot."
"We just want people to be aware of it," said Connie McMullen of the Mississippi Department of Transportation. "Be safe going through there. We have had a lot of people break through the closures, cause terrible accidents, loss of life, and we don't want that to happen."
In Choctaw County just last week, a county worker was killed and another critically injured on County Road 32. The crew was patching a pothole.
As road construction season moves into full swing, one woman who sees a lot of state road workers urges motorists to keep watch for these men and women.
"These guys are our friends and they work very hard to keep our roads running smoothly," said Sandra Chambers, supervisor of the Mississippi Welcome Center at Toomsuba. "Please slow down, be careful, look out for them. Any time you see an orange barrel, slow down because there is bound to be a human somewhere close by trying to work in that area."
Officials say most of the accidents that occur are due to drivers being distracted, speeding, and not obeying the posted signs when entering a work zone.