In my years as a news reporter, I've seen first-hand tragic accidents that have occurred in construction zones. Those of you unfortunate enough to have been involved in or witnessed them can identify with the confusion and horror of "what just happened?" And even more of you can think of numerous close calls with unsafe drivers while you were working.
Workers in Minnesota know. According to the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT), there were 31 fatalities and 123 serious injuries in Minnesota construction work zones over the past three years.
In the wake of these disturbing statistics, the Minnesota Legislature and Governor Tim Walz enacted a new law that went into effect at the beginning of the month. Part of the law gives construction work zone flaggers the power to report drivers who are operating their vehicle unsafely in the work zones. They can do this within four hours of the incident. Then law enforcement can issue a citation to those drivers if it is warranted.
Gov. Walz said at a press conference highlighting the new law, "Work zones are incredibly dangerous. The flaggers who are the first ones in those work zones in many places are at risk," he said. "This piece of legislation, just to let people know: You come into a work zone, and you disobey what the flaggers are doing, you put people at risk. Those flaggers are now empowered to take down that driver's license number, and you will be getting a talk-to by State Patrol."
Other parts of the new law ban drivers from talking on the phone unless they're on a hands-free device, using the left lane for passing only and giving room to utilities and emergency vehicles.
"Whether it's hands-free, whether it's move over for utilities or whether it's making sure in the work zones you're following the directions of the flaggers our law enforcement find no pleasure in issuing tickets. They find great pleasure in knowing Minnesotans are getting home safely, getting to work safely and being with their loved ones," Walz said.
Check out the video of the press conference below.
Do you think this is a law that should be enacted in your state?
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