Iowa DOT News Release

Iowa DOT warns drivers to reduce distractions in work zones

Posted on: June 24, 2016

AMES, Iowa – June 24, 2016 – The fatal crash in a work zone on Interstate 35 in Warren County Thursday was the second such fatality this week and the eighth death in a work zone this construction season, according to the Iowa Department of Transportation.

The Iowa DOT has embarked on the largest construction season in its history this year, with more than $716 million in projects in hundreds of work zones all over the state. Hundreds of other construction projects are underway on county and city roads, as well.

Driving through construction zones require drivers to make adjustments. It is critically important for every driver to focus exclusively on the task of driving. Distractions are dangerous for any driver, but they can be especially deadly when traveling through a work zone.

Following a few simple guidelines can greatly improve safety in a work zone for both drivers and workers.

Expect the unexpected in any work zone along any road. Speed limits may be reduced, traffic lanes may be changed, and people and equipment may be at work on or near the road.

Slow down. Be alert. Pay attention to the signs. Diamond-shaped orange warning signs are generally posted in advance of road construction projects. Observe the posted signs until you see the one that marks the end of the work zone.

Wear your seat belt. Taking two seconds to click your seat belt can reduce your risk of dying or being seriously injured in a crash by more than half.

Watch out for flaggers. In addition to other warning signs, a “flagger ahead” warning sign may be posted in the work zone. Stay alert and be prepared to obey the flagger’s directions. In a work zone, a flagger has the same authority as a regulatory sign, so you can be cited for disobeying his or her directions.

Merge as soon as possible. Motorists can help maintain traffic flow and posted speeds by moving to the appropriate lane as quickly and safely as possible after first notice of an approaching work zone.

Slow down when directed. Speeding is one of the major causes of work zone crashes. A car traveling 60 mph travels 88 feet per second. If you are going 60 mph and you pass a sign that reads “Road Work Ahead,” you will reach that work zone in 45 seconds.

Don’t tailgate. The most common crash in a highway work zone is the rear-end collision; so, remember to leave at least two seconds of braking distance between you and the vehicle in front of you.

Keep a safe distance between your vehicle and traffic barriers, trucks, construction equipment and workers. 

Work zones may be mobile. Some work zones – like line painting, road patching, shoulder repair, and mowing – are mobile and advance as the work is finished. Just because you do not see the workers immediately after you see the warning sign does not mean they are not present in the area.  

Expect delays. Plan ahead and leave early to reach your destination on time. Highway
agencies use many different ways to inform motorists about the location and duration of major work zones. Often, agencies will suggest a detour to help you avoid the work zone entirely. Plan ahead and try an alternate route.

More information about work zone safety can be found on the Iowa DOT’s website at


Contact: Mark Bortle at 515-239-1587 or

Iowa highway in the evening