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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) — The Alabama Department of Transportation (ALDOT) and other agencies nationwide are observing Work Zone Awareness Week from April 11 through April 15.

“You are in a car which is basically a huge metal bullet,” said Seth Burkett, ALDOT’s regional spokesperson.

ALDOT said last year there were 2,349 work zone crashes. Of those crashes, 17 were fatal and 420 caused injuries.

Burkett said it’s a big misconception that workers are the most at-risk for injuries or getting hit by cars. He stated, “most of the people who are injured or killed in work zone crashes, are motorists.”

Burkett said a good portion of work zone accidents come from distracted driving, speeding, and not leaving enough following distance. He continued to say it is important to leave enough following distance between you and the car in front of you, incase you get into a situation where you need to break quickly.

“Motorists when they are following each other too closely, that puts them at greater risk of rear end collisions,” Burkett told News 19. “We do see a lot of read end collisions in work zones.”

Burkett said people always need to pay attention, even in areas they drive through every day.

“Often times there will be a shift in lanes, or there may be something that has changed,” Burkett continued.

He said a big problem we see in North Alabama is people getting too used to a particular work zone.

“When you have a work zone that people travel through every day and it’s in place for a long time, regardless of whether it’s currently active, motorists tend to become more and more relaxed every time.” he stated.

“They tend to start speeding more and just paying less attention to their surroundings then when they first started driving through it,” Burkett stated.

While ALDOT does the best it can to make drivers aware of upcoming work zones by putting up signs and encouraging awareness, Burkett said unfortunately most people only respond when penalties are involved.

“The threat of a fine is sometimes the biggest deterrent to speeding in work zones or other moving violation,” Burkett concluded. “Any moving violation in a work zone can result in a doubled fine or a fine of at least $250, whichever is greater.”