Wisconsin Department of Transportation

Alert: The following services will be unavailable on Saturday, January 5, 2013 from 12 a.m. (midnight) to 6 a.m. CST due to system maintenance.

"Safer in the Zone" transcript

Safer In The Zone

Voice over: Five crashes. Every day. Five crashes a day. Thirty-five crashes a week. One hundred forty six crashes in a month. In Wisconsinís work zones and construction zones, we average two thousand crashes and eleven fatalities every year. Two thousand crashes. Thatís just too much. Too many.

Voice over: We all need to be safer in the zone.

Voice over: Right now, in one of Wisconsinís 72 counties, somewhere over our 100,000 miles of roads, there are people working in a work zone.

A work zones can be a major construction area that lasts for weeks. And it can be minor, like a quick pothole filling operation.

A work zone can simply be where a snowplow or salt truck is driving with its warning lights on. Or a garbage pickup.

Bottom line: anytime you see road construction or maintenance signage, road maintenance equipment or vehicles, and especially the workersÖpay attention.

Interview 1: Ernie Winters: Dennis was a great guy. I donít know a single person who met him through his employment with the highway department that didnít like him, that didnít think of him as a friend. He loved his kids and his wife. He was a bit of a jokester and a prankster. He always had a smile on his face. He was always happy. On December 18th 2003 a county highway employee in Fond Du Lac County, Dennis Roeseler, was hit and killed by a minivan while he was working within a properly signed and set up work zone in Fond Du Lac County on US Highway 41. On the day Dennis was killed the work zone set up per the DOT guidelines just exactly as it should have been, and a driver, a little impatient, traveling south behind a large truck decided to try to get around the truck while still in the work zone, pulled into our work area, hit three cones and then struck Dennis going approximately 50 miles per hour. His body traveled roughly 60 feet before it came to rest. He died on impact. When we approached the scene we observed Dennisí body beingÖwas covered with raincoats by his coworkers. Obviously a very heavy pall of sorrow and concern and everybody was very hard to console. And it was horrible, just horrible. I hope I never have to see a scene like that again. We came very, very close that day to losing more than Dennis, probably 5 seconds from Dennis being hit there were 3 employees standing in that same exact location. And they only turned away from Dennis to get more material from the back of another truck. It was really a miracle that more people werenít killed. Iíll never forget how difficult it was to tell Sue Roeseler, his wife and Sean and Heidi, his children that their father had been killed that day while at work. I hired Dennis, this had a deep impact on me and ever since then Iíve tried to get the message of work zone safety out to the motoring public. Imagine what itís like if you do something like that, and you kill another person with your vehicle, how that would change your life. This was not a bad person, but he was driving through a work zone trying to get somewhere in a hurry and wasnít paying attention and this is the result. He got his life back, Dennis Roeseler never did. People need to slow down in work zones when you see orange barrels and barricades take your foot off the gas, hang up the cell phone, and pay more attention.

Voice over: There are fines for breaking the law in and around work zones. For example, in construction zones, fines double.

Voice over: What you have to remember is really simpleópay attention when youíre in and around work zones.

Eliminate distractions, like cell phones, adjusting the radio and eating. Focus on getting in and out of the work zone safely, by slowing down, or moving over, or both. For those who work there. And for yourself. After all, the majority of crashes, injuries and deaths in work zone crashes affect the drivers far more than the workers.

Interview 2: Tim Johnson: On January 12th after 6:00 in the morning there was an accident scene that happened on 94 and I was closing a ramp down helping out so no traffic goes through. And the accident was cleared out and we started clearing out the ramp and next thing I know is I got hit. After the accident the first thing that I remember was being in a hospital in second surgery and my family telling me about what had happened. I had a month of inpatient and outpatient therapy. This happens to a lot of people my brother Deputy Kevin Johnson Milwaukee county sheriffís office was involved in an accident from a gentleman who did not move over and hit the same spot. It was early in the morning with my brother when he got hit in traffic in lane one, close to the median and he realized a car was coming so he braced himself. This has totally changed my life because right now Iím behind a desk instead of being in a squad car. I get upset when I see somebody on the telephone, cell phone, shaving, drinking coffee, makeup, when you see a squad on the side of the road with lights on, please move over or slow down.

Voice over: According to state law, hereís what you do: you have to move over a lane if possible and/or slow down, if changing lanes is not safe when encountering emergency and maintenance vehicles; like a law enforcement vehicle, ambulance, fire truck, tow truck, utility vehicle or highway construction vehicle. If itís on the side of the road with its lights flashing, you have to act.

Interview 3: Scott Hansen: When I was filling up pot holes cars they would go right next to ya, they wouldnít move over then we would put asphalt down in the hole and they would swerve and move to lookout for the asphalt and swerve towards you more just so they wouldnít hit the new asphalt. So theyíre more worried about their car than the worker on the road. It was the third week of March, it was around noon time and my job that day was to clean sewer lines under Tenth and National and we had coned the whole lane closed and me and my coworker Butch, we had it all coned out and we just got out of the truck and we opened up the manhole and we were just starting to put the hose down the line, down to clean the sewer line and some person came through the cones and hit him and me. Heís had multiple surgeries to save one of his legs and heís not walking too good right at this time. The truck is parked here, we had this lane closed off with cones going right here and she went, and there was a car here and a car here in this lane and she went right through our cones and hit us right in the back of the truck. The guy who was working with me was kind of like off the site so he flew off on the side of the truck and hit me in the back of the truck and pinned me between the car and the truck. The two cars stopped that were driving right next to her and they said that she never slowed down, never put on her brakes or nothing, so she hit me going 40 miles an hour, never touching the brakes. I came out and I was in excruciating pain and my brother was standing at the bed and then the pain was so bad I went out again. All I can remember is screaming at him to take off my shoes, cause it felt like my shoes were too tight on my feet and I was just yelling at him to take my shoes off. When I was in there I had surgery every other day for two weeks. Yeah, I go to physical therapy twice a week at Freighter, learning how to walk again. I just got the knees put on so now Iím learning how to walk with those on and itís harder than anybody can imagine. Lot of time put into it, a lot of time and pain. Iím in pain every day. I want to just get back to normal stuff, you know, driving again and playing with my son, and you know take him fishing and you know, just get back in life again. Just drive safe, a car, itís like a deadly weapon, you know itís just like you can hurt somebody very bad or kill somebody with it. To this day I still think itís a bad dream, never woke up yet thatís what I feel. ĎTil today I still think that way. Thatís how I felt.

Voice over: Remember when you come upon work zones, pay attention. Put space between vehicles. Expect the unexpected. And watch out for signs, flags, lights, barrels, cones and mostly, people.

All across Wisconsin, weíre trying to get people to pay attention and eliminate distractions. Slow down, and move over when possible when youíre in and around work zones, construction zones and law enforcement vehicles.

It is about protecting peopleís lives. Not just the lives of those who work on Wisconsinís roads, but yours too. So please, letís reduce crashesÖand be safer in the zone.

For more information:

Questions about the content of this page:
Office of Public Affairs, opa.exec@dot.wi.gov
Last modified: April 7, 2008

All external hyperlinks are provided for your information and for the benefit of the general public. The Wisconsin Department of Transportation does not testify to, sponsor or endorse the accuracy of the information provided on externally linked pages. Some pages contain links to other documents and media types (PDF, Word, Flash, Video, etc.) and require free plugins to work. Visit our software information page for assistance.