WisDOT joins Eau Claire County, Wisconsin County Highway Association to promote safety in work zones

​​​​​​​​​Release date: August 24, 2023

More than 80 construction projects are underway in northwest Wisconsin, and drivers are urged to slow down and pay attention in work zones. Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT) Assistant Deputy Secretary Joel Nilsestuen today joined the Wisconsin State Patrol, Eau Claire County Highway Department, Wisconsin County Highway Association (WCHA) and industry partners at a news conference in Eau Claire to emphasize the message of safe, responsible driving – especially in work zones.

“The summer travel season is almost in the rearview mirror, but drivers should continue to watch the road ahead and slow down in work zones,” WisDOT Assistant Deputy Secretary Nilsestuen said at the event. “Work zones may cause a temporary inconvenience, but our decisions behind the wheel can make an impact that lasts forever. Even a quick glance at a text or social media alert while driving can have life-altering consequences – especially in work zones where crews are often within feet of traffic. Please buckle up, slow down and watch the road ahead. Safe drivers create safe work zones.”

Data shows more than 2,000 crashes were recorded in Wisconsin work zones in 2022, resulting in eight deaths and more than 650 injuries. In Wisconsin, work zones include highway construction and rolling maintenance operations as well as emergency response, municipal projects and utility work along local roads.

“County workers, as well as all local front-line employees, have challenging workspaces that interface with public travel,” WCHA Executive Director Patrick Vander Sanden said. “We don’t want to witness the tragic consequences of distracted driving in our work zones. We continue to implement measures to keep our workers safe and raising awareness with events that bring together transportation stakeholders, but we need drivers to pay attention in work zones.”

Cell phone use is one of the most common factors in distracted driving crashes. Wisconsin law prohibits texting while driving on any road. It is also illegal to use a hand-held mobile device in work zones and in areas surrounding emergency response vehicles with flashing lights. Motorists are urged to buckle up and put their phone down when driving.

“Improving and maintaining our highway system is critical for our economy and daily travel. That's why each day, thousands of county highway staff are out on our highway system working to provide safe and efficient travel,” Eau Claire County Highway Commissioner Jon Johnson said. “When you go through a work zone, slow down, move over and watch out for our men and women who are working on the roads and bridges.”

Today’s event held at the Eau Claire County Highway Department facility in Eau Claire continues WisDOT’s season-long campaign to increase work zone safety messaging across the state. WisDOT engages with county highway partners, Wisconsin Counties Association, Wisconsin Transportation Builders Association and others to promote safe driving in work zones.

​How can people help?

  • Drive safely. Be courteous, avoid distractions and obey posted speed limits.
  • Leave the phone alone. Texting while driving is illegal statewide and talking on a hand-held mobile device is illegal in work zones.
  • Move over, or slow down, when you see workers and vehicles with flashing lights along the highway. Wisconsin's Move Over Law applies to maintenance operations as well as emergency response units.
  • Buckle Up, Phone Down. Take the pledge at wisconsindot.gov/BUPD and share your commitment with others. Participants are encouraged to share a thumbs up/thumbs down photo on social media using the hashtag #BuckleUpPhoneDown then challenge friends, family and coworkers to do the same.

​Visit wisconsindot.gov and search "work zone" for more tips and information.

For more information, contact:

WisDOT Office of Public Affairs
(608) 266-3581, opa.exec@dot.wi.gov