By Alex DeMetrick

BALTIMORE (WJZ) — No matter what the job skill, staying alive comes first for highway workers.

Alex DeMetrick reports keeping traffic and workers apart and safe is producing new warnings.

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This year has already seen its first death in a highway work zone when a worker was hit by a pickup truck and killed. Odds are, more will die.

The threat is there every day.

“You have vehicles that travel in excess of 60 miles per hour through your work zone. It’s a dangerous place,” said Graden Tobery, SHA worker.

Crews are trained in ways to minimize that danger. They’re asking drivers to do the same by slowing down and staying alert in work zones.

“Lots of lane shifts, lots of distractions in work zones. So drivers need to focus on the task at hand, and that’s driving,” said SHA Administrator Melinda Peters.

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A roadside news conference pushed for that awareness. Laurie Moser says she and her husband worried the risk was greatest in bad weather.

“And what an irony that he was killed on the most clear, beautiful summer day. We certainly had never really understood the risk was just as great in perfect weather,” Moser said.

During the past five years, there have been more than 8,000 work zone crashes in Maryland. More than 4,000 people were injured. Last year, eight people died.

People who work on highways aren’t the only ones at risk.

“Four out of five injuries and fatalities in work zones are drivers or their passengers. It’s important for drivers to recognize that they are just as exposed as our workers,” said Peters.

There has been progress, but it comes with a ticket. State police report speeding in work zones has declined by 80 percent when automated cameras are in place.

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