INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — State troopers and transportation officials urged Hoosiers to “Drive Like You Work Here” when approaching highway work zones marked by orange construction barrels.
The safety reminder Tuesday morning was underscored by a Work Zone Safety Awareness Week display outside the Indiana Statehouse in downtown Indianapolis.
A black coffin labeled “Slow down, move over” sat atop a tow truck beside 15 orange cones draped with black ribbons — one for each person killed in Indiana highway work zones in 2017.
Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT) employees moved an office desk and makeshift lamp onto the back of another tow truck outside the Statehouse.
“Drive like you work here,” a sign on the desk read.
“It’s our office,” Indiana State Police Sgt. John Perrine said of highway shoulders and work zones. “It’s not our choice. We don’t love working alongside the highway.”
Safety restrictions protect officers and first responders, he said, in addition to tow truck drivers, sanitation department workers, utility workers and construction workers.
However, the people most often killed in highway work zones are civilians, Perrine told News 8.
“Nationally, over 80 percent of all fatalities in work zones don’t involve somebody wearing a yellow construction vest,” he explained. “It involves somebody in one of those vehicles that’s passing through.”
A wrecked civilian vehicle sat atop a third tow truck.
“Wow,” a Statehouse employee remarked as he walked by.
He grimaced at the car and coffin before averting his eyes and heading to his, arguably safer, office upstairs.