Give Them a Brake
The Maryland State Highway Administration yesterday urged drivers to be cautious when they pass through work zones following the deaths of two members of a highway crew and the injury of three other men on Route 29 in Burtonsville this week.
The five, employees of PDI Sheetz of Linthicum Heights, were working on a bridge patching project along Route 29 over the Patuxent River.
Manuel De Jesus Gonzalez-Geronimo, 31, was driving a north on Route 29 at about 1 p.m. on Monday when his van struck a truck, then pinned the five workers who were sitting on a guardrail north of Route 198, near the Howard County line, The Post reported.
Martin Ruffin, 30, of Baltimore and James Cronin, 37, of Glen Burnie were fatally injured. Two other men are in critical condition. Gonzalez-Geronimo, who police said is an unlicensed driver in the country illegally, fled after the accident but later turned himself in. Police said he has been charged with fleeing the scene of a fatal crash and other offenses.
"Our thoughts are with the Ruffin and Cronin families, the injured workers and their families and co-workers," State Highway Administrator Neil J. Pedersen said in a statement yesterday. "Safety is our number one priority, and SHA takes every precaution to keep both workers and motorists safe. Motorists, too, have a paramount role in keeping workers safe -- it begins with driving attentively and reducing speeds."
This has been a deadly season in Maryland's work zones. Richard W. Moser, a state highway maintenance worker was killed on Route 340 in Frederick County and a prison worker on a litter detail was killed on Interstate 95 in Prince George's County.
The SHA said there can be as many as 300 work zones across Maryland. You can find their locations on www.marylandroads.com.
Last year, acording to the SHA, more than 2,200 work zone crashes left 13 people dead and injured 1,072. Nationwide, there were more than 1,000 fatalities in work zones. Four out of five of the people killed were drivers or passengers.
Maryland has a Strategic Highway Safety Plan. But for any individual driver, the best advice is, stay alert. Take your eyes off the road for one second while driving 65 mph and you travel 100 feet, the SHA notes.
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