NDDOT reminds drivers to be responsible during road construction season

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BISMRCK, N.D. It may be cool outside, but highway construction projects are heating up which means we all need to be cautious on the roads.

No matter where you live, you can expect road construction, and you will need to be more aware of potentially dangerous driving situations.

Highway repairs have already begun in North Dakota, and transportation officials have a message for drivers.

"No Snapchats, no texting, it's against the law. So when you see the orange cone, drop the phone," said Russ Hanson, Associated General Contractors of North Dakota.

As in years past law enforcement will be out in full force to help keep everyone safe.

"Speeding and following to closely are the most common contributing factors in most construction zone crashes. Last year troopers issued 487 citations and 299 warnings," said Lt. Mike Roark, North Dakota Highway Patrol.

Officials say the math doesn't lie, speeding doesn't save that much time.

"On a 10 mile lane closure if a person slows down 10 mph, it's only an additional 75 seconds. Trying to arrive at a destination a minute or two sooner is simply not worth it," said Wayde Swenson, NDDOT director of operations

Drivers will need to be aware of changing situations through out the season. Projects like the repairs to I-94 between Bismarck and Mandan have already started and aren't expected to be completed until November. Because of that drivers will need to adapt.

"Because the I-94 corridor through Bismarck gets 36,000 cars a day the zipper merge will help ease that traffic," said Amanda Godfread, I-94 project communications.

The zipper merge is simple and involves cars staying in their lanes until the lane ends, and alternating left and right merging into one lane. It's popular in places like Los Angeles, San Francisco, Washington, D.C., or anywhere else with high volume traffic.

DOT officials say 157 accidents happened in construction zones last year. Four of those were fatalities.