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TXDOT work zone injury draws attention to safety, driver awareness

In 2017, there were 500 work zone crashes in the Texas Department of Transportation Amarillo district, which spans 17 counties. (ABC 7 Amarillo-Tiffany Lester)

There are about a dozen work zones within the city limits of Amarillo.

In 2017, there were 500 work zone crashes in the Texas Department of Transportation Amarillo district, which spans 17 counties.

Of those 500, seven were fatalities and 21 resulted in serious injury.

“It’s very tragic and disheartening to have to go through that,” said J. Lee Milligan, Inc. Safety Officer, Johnny Deal.

Three J. Lee Milligan Inc. workers were hit and killed by a loose trailer in 2017. Two others were hurt.

“A lot of the families that lost the individuals, they have family that still work for us, to see the somberness in their face is very difficult for us to heal,” said Deal.

Deal told ABC 7 News accidents like that happen in an instant, especially with reckless driving being a day-to-day occurrence.

“You name it, we've seen it. From distracted driving to no handed driving to people reading their books, drinking alcohol, eating,” said Deal.

Texas Department of Transportation Public Information Officer Sonja Gross said a few weeks ago an inattentive driver drove into a closed lane on I-27.

The driver hit the hand of a maintenance worker.

“Thankfully, our employee saw the vehicle coming and was able to react in time to step back, but not fast enough to avoid complete injury,” said Gross.

The employee's hand was not broken, but it was seriously bruised.

“I’m sure it not only hurt, but it put him out of work for a few days and it's something he's going to have to live with for the rest of his life and it's something he'll have to think about every time he has to get back out there on the road,” said Gross.

That is the reason why Gross said it is vital that drivers pay attention and slow down in work zones.

“We’ve got our guys putting their lives on the line every day to build you better bridges, better roads, a better transportation system, a safer transportation system so as a driver, the least we can do is show some consideration in return. You, as a driver, have a greater risk, while I plead with everyone to slow down for our sake, also their sake,” said Gross.

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