UTAH (ABC4) – It’s spring in Utah – and that means you’ll start seeing a whole lot more orange out on the roads. Utah Department Of Transportation (UDOT) is reminding people to drive carefully and keep an eye out for crews that are out working in these construction zones.

UDOT is planning 175 projects statewide for this year. And just as construction is beginning, John Gleason, a spokesperson with UDOT says they’ve already seen many incidents of people speeding through the work zone.

So far this year, there have been 291 construction zone crashes and two fatalities. In 2021, there were 2,384 crashes and seven fatalities. Officials want to remind drivers how to be keep both themselves and construction workers safe as they travel through these zones.

“Let’s give them the room to work and slow down, and recognize that these people are just like you and me, they want to get home to their families, they value their lives and we want to show them we value their lives as well,” Gleason said.

Charlie Keene, the Safety Manager with Oak Hills Constructors, says crashes are something his team sees weekly.

“Probably the biggest ones that we’ve seen is, you know, people cutting off our drivers or doing really dangerous stuff and then it just doesn’t end up very well for them,” Keene said.

He says they see a lot of fender benders, tailgating and people hitting their equipment.

“You just never know what’s going to happen. We’re constantly doing lane shifts, slowdowns.  Every day the conditions out here change, so even if you drive the road every day, you need to pay attention,” he said.

Cpl. Tara Wahlberg with UHP says they’re constantly patrolling construction zones. She says not driving carefully in work zones can lead to you getting hurt or hurting others — just like one incident last year when an impaired driver entered a construction zone.

“Workers do get hurt quite often, last year we had the one up in kind of by Clinton, he broke his femur,” she said.

What she says are some of the biggest problems are distracted driving and speeding. 

“We see really high speeds in construction zones, in fact, this one we recently stopped someone going well over 100, which is double the limited for this zone. It’s a 55. Not only is that a hefty ticket, but you’re putting your life in danger and other people’s lives in danger,” she said.

Officials want drivers to remember to slow down, increase their distance, and keep an eye out while work is being done on Utah roads. 

“They’re out here improving our roadways, making them better, we just need to be patient,” Wahlberg said. 

In Utah, fines for speeding and other traffic violations are doubled in construction zones.