Last year, the New York State Department of Transportation reported close to 700 crashes in construction work zones. Most of these have been attributed to distracted driving.

Today, the NYSDOT urged drivers to slow down and use more caution when approaching work zone areas. 

“There’s nothing that can take away not paying attention on the road, we deal with it every day, we’re out there on the road, we see people talking, texting.” Arthur Payne, a highway maintenance worker for the NYSDOT, said. “This week I saw a guy on his laptop, had it sitting on his lap, in front of the steering wheel.”

Last spring, Payne was working on a late night sweeping operation in Corning. A tractor trailer rear ended his truck and pushed him 1,000 feet down a center wall, resulting in injuries he still suffers today.

“The stiff neck I still deal with, I don’t have the full response of my neck, but the headaches, after the series of injections, have kind of gone away,” Payne said. 

Four years ago, Bill Kaner, another NYSDOT highway maintenance worker, was also in an accident. While working on a paving project, in Corning, a tractor trailer crashed into his work zone. The accident resulted in a sharp piece from the truck hitting Kaner from behind the head. 

It was his helmet that saved his life. A dent was left from the metal piece that flew at him during the accident. To his surprise, the truck continued driving.

“The drivers are very, very non-complacent with our work zones,” Kaner said. “They just do not pay attention to what’s going on.”

He urges drivers to use more caution in those areas.

“We work, sometimes, right next to those orange cones and having those cars fly by us in excessive or normal speed limits, it’s dangerous for all of us, and I kind of like to go home every night, I don’t want to be a statistic in the side of the highway somewhere,” Kaner said, “Just slow down and pay attention to us.”