Drivers ignoring TxDOT construction zone stoplights

WICHITA FALLS, TX (KAUZ) - Summertime is a busy month for road crews and TxDOT has been hard at work all summer long. One new way they're controlling traffic is with stop lights instead of flaggers.

But some drivers haven't got the message on how to approach them.

During TxDOT construction projects along two lane highways, traffic is often brought to one lane. So traffic and construction work can go on at the same time.

TxDOT public information officer, Adele Lewis said these lights are used for temporary and permanent work zones including at night when workers aren't present.

"We have a pilot car in operation that's helping people get through and people are used to seeing the pilot car. But these lights are also being installed on our work zones to hold traffic on each end of that work zone project until the pilot car can come back and get you and escort you through," said Lewis.

On both sides of the construction zone, there are signs and cones all the way leading up to the stoplight to tell you to stop on red and then wait for the pilot car.

After only a few minutes at a construction zone near Wichita Falls, we saw many cars who did not follow instructions.

"Our big problem right now is the people running these red lights. It's a regular light like at an intersection. You need to stop or risk a head on wreck. We have sat out here for five minutes and seen at least two cars run that red light and take that risk. The people behind the pilot car are being allowed to proceed, they're not expecting to encounter a head on wreck," said Lewis.

Many drivers, however, did the right thing and stopped while the light was red.

"It's necessary for safety mainly. The light is red, you must stop. It's green, you must go. You have to follow the law and the rules of the road," said Iowa Park driver Lester Walker.

"Yeah, I've never seen one. I just turned down this road and wondered what was going on," said Wichita Falls driver Andrea Youngblood.

It's not just about the safety of the drivers but also the lives of others.

"We've got so many work zone injuries every year that about 150 construction employees, both ours and contractors, will die every year in work zones because of errant vehicles. People on their phones, people that run these red lights and our people are getting killed," said Lewis.

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