COLUMBIA - The Missouri Department of Transportation wants to remind drivers to slow down and watch out for workers in construction zones. 

The reminder comes after a semi-truck crashed into a MoDOT vehicle near St. Joseph Tuesday morning. No injuries were reported, but both vehicles were damaged.

In 2020, 27 people were killed in work zone crashes in Missouri. Between 2016 and 2020, 83 people were killed in work zone crashes in Missouri and 3,757 people were injured. 

Workers also have to be cautious when working on busy roads. Between 2016 and 2020, 19 MoDOT employees were killed in the line of duty and 13 took place in work zones.

Devon Gates, a heavy equipment operator, says there are times when it can get unsafe working on the roads. 

"We spend a lot of time on busy roads like this, and you've got to make sure you look both ways and keep your eye out because you never know what can happen," Gates said. 

Gates says for the most part he feels okay about working on the roads if they do the right things to set up.

"Usually it's safe, but we make precautions to make sure there are enough cones and signs," Gates said. 

MoDOT urges people to slow down and utilize their traffic maps on their website. 

"There's definitely a lot of people out here that drive a little crazier and faster than they should but you've just got to watch out," Gates said. 

Tools like the WAZE app allow drivers to track real time traffic alerts and check when and where a MoDOT vehicle is. 

"It would make us feel better if we knew everybody was using an app that helped them know there was construction ahead," Gates said

Work zone safety is something MoDOT wants drivers to familiarize themselves with. 

The MoDOT website also lists ways to stay safe in these work zones:

  • Buckle Up! – Every trip, every time – safety belts save lives.
  • Put Your Phone Down! – Dedicate your full attention to the roadway. 
  • Follow Signs! – They’ll guide you through work zones safely. 
  • Expect the Unexpected! – Watch for flaggers, workers and equipment. 
  • Pay Attention! – Turn the radio down and don’t use your cellular phone.
  • Be Patient! – Remember workers are improving the road for future travels. 
  • Don’t Speed!– Follow posted limits and adjust for weather conditions. 
  • Don’t Drink and Drive! – Impairment of any kind is unacceptable. 
  • Be Nice! – Merge as directed, don’t tailgate and don’t change lanes in a work zone.

"Overall, taking the time to familiarize yourself with work zones and taking things slower is essential to the safety of both the workers and the drivers," Kirsten Munck, MoDOT's central district area engineer, said. 

Gates says everybody needs to just pay attention and look at signs.

"A lot of times people just don't even look at signs, they'll just keep on driving," he said.