Minnesota Department of Transportation

511 Travel Info

News Release

May 9, 2014

Orange barrels on a highway

Distracted driving awareness continues even though month has passed

ROCHESTER, Minn. — The Minnesota Department of Transportation reminds motorists that even though National Distracted Driving Awareness Month has just passed, it doesn’t end motorists’ responsibilities to drive attentively and safely, especially in work zones.

For drivers on Interstate 90 at the Dresbach Bridge project over the Mississippi River, it’s especially important as the work zone will put drivers in traffic in one lane each direction for much of the summer and fall.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that 3,328 people were killed and an estimated 421,000 were injured in distraction-related crashes in 2012. According to  Distraction.gov, the official U.S. government website for distracted driving, 10 percent of all drivers under the age of 20 involved in fatal crashes were reported as distracted at the time of the crash. This age group has the largest proportion of drivers who were distracted. And, according to the National Safety Council, car crashes are the No. 1 cause of unintentional deaths in the U.S and up to 90 percent of car crashes are caused by driver error—not mechanical error or environmental factors.

Distracted driving can be particularly dangerous in work zones. According to the results of a new highway work zone study conducted by the Associated General Contractors of America, 45 percent of highway contractors had vehicles crash into their construction work zones during the past year. Association officials added that the study found work zone crashes are more likely to kill vehicle operators and passengers than construction workers. And, according to the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, speeding was a factor in more than 35 percent of all fatal work zone crashes in 2012.

“With the start of the 2014 construction season and traffic going back to one lane in each direction over the Interstate 90 Dresbach Bridge (single lane traffic in both directions on the eastbound lanes), it’s even more important than ever for drivers to slow down and remain alert while driving through the construction zone,” said Mark Anderson, MnDOT project manager of the Dresbach Bridge project.

MnDOT urges motorists to follow these recommendations in work zones: 

  • Stay alert 
  • Watch for signs, equipment and workers 
  • Minimize distractions, such as using cell phones, eating or drinking 
  • Turn off electronic devices and put them out of reach before starting to drive
  • Be good role models for young drivers and set a good example. Talk with your teens about responsible driving.
  • Avoid tailgating 
  • Follow posted speed limits and directional signs 
  • Stay in one lane while driving through a work zone
  • Always wear your seat belt. Seat belts are the best defense against other unsafe drivers.

For more information on the project go to the MnDOT project page at www.dot.state.mn.us/dresbachbridge/index.html. There is also a Facebook page at www.facebook.com/DresbachBridge.

For real-time traffic and travel information anywhere in Minnesota, visit www.511mn.org, call 5-1-1 or log on to www.mndot.gov.