Widow of fallen ALDOT worker urges drivers to pay attention while on the road

DECATUR, Ala. - April 3-7 is National Work Zone Awareness Week, and the Alabama Department of Transportation, road builders, contractors, and local officials are joining together to encourage motorists to slow down in work zones.

Last year during National Work Zone Awareness week, one ALDOT employee was killed and another was injured when they were both struck by a vehicle. They were removing traffic control barrels on I-65 north of Priceville.

"Last year on April 14, my husband was taken from us in an accident and I have young children and we would like to raise awareness," said Somer Smith.

Almost a year to the date, Somer Smith is making a plea to the public.  Family stood by her side as she shared her story.

"These guys are important," said Smith. "They are somebody's mother, father, brother, sister. Slow down, move over, pay attention."

She knows all too well the feeling of losing a loved one and now she thinks twice.

"All my friends, I do... we slow down," said Smith. "If we see a problem, we even try to call and correct it."

According to ALDOT preliminary data, in 2016, there were over 2,000 work zone crashes, resulting in 14 fatalities.

This week stands as a reminder.

"Every day they're out there working," said ALDOT Public Information Officer Seth Burkett. "Their office is on the road and they need a safe place to work."

ALDOT and Somer Smith are asking everyone to think of Jake next time you drive through a work zone.