By KERRY SMITH

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo./St. Louis, Mo. – Associated General Contractors of Missouri President Len Toenjes and Safety VP Brandon Anderson traveled across Missouri on April 16 to spread the message of awareness for those who labor in work zones and are at the mercy of motorists.

As part of National Work Zone Awareness Week from April 15-19, Toenjes and Anderson hosted speaking events in Jefferson City, Mo. and St. Louis, Mo.

“I’m here representing the 525-plus members of the AGC of Missouri, many of whom are out on Missouri’s roadways and bridges today and throughout the year, building and repairing to make our highways and roads safe for drivers,” said Toenjes. “As a long-time partner with MoDOT, we want the best for Missouri drivers, MoDOT workers and our contractors’ road crews, engineers and suppliers to come home safely.”

Anderson shared alarming statistics that in 2023, 35 individuals were killed in work zone crashes in Missouri. “That’s 35 families whose lives were changed forever,” Anderson said. “Between 2019 and 2023, 114 people were killed in work zone crashes in Missouri.”

A statistic that weighs heaviest on him, Toenjes said, is the total of 35 MoDOT employees who have been killed in the line of duty since 2000, 16 of these deaths occurring in highway work zones.

“Over the past four years alone, 5,017 people were injured in Missouri work zone crashes,” he added. “That’s approximately 10 people each day who were injured…again, far too many.”

Anderson reported that the top five contributing circumstances for work zone crashes are:

  • Improper lane usage
  • Following too closely
  • Distracted driving (cell phones as a major contributor)
  • Failing to yield
  • Driving too fast for conditions

Last year, Missouri saw 58 work zone crashes and 5 fatalities that stemmed from distracted driving. According to MoDOT, 63 percent of vehicle occupant fatalities during 2023 were not wearing a seatbelt.

“If we can all just remember to fasten our seatbelts, put down our phones and pay attention and slow down in work zones, these stats can and will change, and we’ll all get home safely,” Toenjes said.