To say that 2020 has been an odd and challenging year is an understatement. For us in the road construction business, that holds true as well. Normally, during this time of year, projects would start to wind down before our Michigan winter sets in. But this year we are continuing to move forward with projects all around our state. This means that road crews are out in full force. It also means that work zones are still in place.

Many years ago, there was an old bumper sticker that simply said, “Road Workers, Give ‘Em A Brake.” The recent tragic accidents in Macomb, Oakland, Kent, and Eaton Counties this past week shows that the saying is still relevant today. Distracted driving or speeding through a work zone is dangerous to the men and women who make their living building and maintaining Michigan’s infrastructure. The people that I represent.

That is why we are working with a bi-partisan group of legislators to enact what we hope will become the Road Workers Safety Act. This package of bills would do several things to increase the safety of Michigan’s road workers. It would increase the penalties for those motorists who disregard the reduced speed zones of worksites and increase the penalties for distracted driving through a work zone. It would also post increased safety areas at the front and back end of these work zones.

I am not a fan of government intervening in our day to day livelihoods. And at times, I wonder why we need to pass legislation to fix things that should be dealt with through common sense. But unfortunately, today, common sense is not so common. To protect those who are charged with fixing “the damn roads” we need to pass laws to do so.

Now, as we begin to go through another change of seasons, please pay attention as you approach work zones. I understand the sight of orange barrels and/or concrete barriers can be frustrating this time of year, but please remember those men and women are just like you and me. They have families that care about them, and the work they are preforming gives us “a short-term delay, but a long-term relief.” The work they do is dangerous, and they do it without hesitation. So please remember that old ad campaign from years back, “Road Workers, Give ‘Em A Brake.”

Douglas Stockwell is Operating Engineers 324 Business Manager. OE324 represents 14,000 members most of whom are road workers across the state laying roads and building bridges.

This article appeared in The Oakland Press, for more, click here