Last year, there were 39 work zone buffer trucks hit in Missouri.

And with 18 hit so far in 2020, the state’s on pace to see more of these work zone crashes than ever. But there’s time to turn it around.

With the start of a busy construction season and National Work Zone Awareness Week coming up April 20-24, the Missouri Department of Transportation reminds motorists to slow down and avoid distractions when driving through work zones.

“It’s always better for everyone if motorists obey speed limits, avoid distractions and follow all signage when driving – especially when through a work zone, so everyone can get home safely,” said District Engineer Dave Silvester.

That’s why MoDOT is urging drivers to take two simple and impactful actions to help protect themselves and those working along the highways: buckle up and put the phone down. Distracted driving remains a leading contributor to work zone crashes. And the best defense in a work zone crash, or any crash, is a seat belt. In 2019, 64 percent of vehicle occupant fatalities were not wearing a seat belt.

The department is also urging drivers to pay attention to their speed. Traffic volumes across the country are down approximately 40 percent as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, but MoDOT officials and their law enforcement partners are seeing an increase in speeding on Missouri highways.

MoDOT also advises motorists to observe warning signs and merge before reaching lane closures. Be aware of changing traffic conditions. Traffic could slow or stop unexpectedly, traffic lanes can merge, or equipment and workers can enter the roadway. Be aware and be prepared to slow down.

“We’re doing what we can right now to keep our employees safe while they work with masks, social distancing and the latest technology and tools available on our roads, but we need the public to help by watching out for us out there,” Silvester said.

To help make your travel safer, visit MoDOT’s Traveler Information map at and find out what work zones you’ll encounter before you go.

For instant updates, follow MoDOT_KC on Twitter, or share posts and comments on our Facebook at  MoDOT Kansas City maintains more than 7,000 miles of state roadway in nine counties. Sign up online for work zone updates or call 888-ASK-MODOT (275-6636).

More From AM 1050 KSIS