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New Minnesota law aims to protect construction zone workers

Updated: August 08, 2019 10:14 PM

People who drive irresponsibly in work zones could be more at risk of getting a citation.

A new law took effect on Aug. 1 and it allows construction zone flaggers to report bad drivers to law enforcement.

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Laura Berg knows all too well the dangers of the job because she used to be a construction flagger.

"Very dangerous", said Berg, who was severely injured working as a construction flagger.

In July 2017, Berg was working at a site in East Bethel when a distracted driver hit her. It left her in the hospital in a coma, and little confidence from doctors of a full recovery.

"I was supposed to be in a nursing home with a feeding tube for the rest of my life, I'm not even supposed to know who my kids are," Berg said. 


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Despite no recollection of the crash, having a shunt put in, a fractured arm and leg, and punctured liver, she survived and now wants to make a difference.

"I wasn't supposed to be here," Berg said.

On any given day, MnDOT says there are between 70 and 200 active work zones across the state. That doesn't even include city or county projects. After her injury, Berg made it a priority to change the law to protect others.

"Finally they're going to do something about these drivers," Berg said. 

Now in work zones, if a flagger sees a driver speeding or disregarding their command, they can take their plate, make and model and pass along the info to State Patrol. 

"They report that information to law enforcement and they're able to then cite the driver," said Ken Johnson, who works with state work zones with MnDOT. 

Ken Johnson with MnDOT says that fine is up to $300. He hears from flaggers all the time just how dangerous it is for these workers.

"They tell us they're diving into ditch sometimes in order to avoid drivers who aren't paying attention," Johnson said. 

Today Berg isn't able to jump or run, and her days as a flagger appear over. But she's making progress every day.

"I was lucky to make it," Berg said. 

Berg hopes she's an example to drivers of what can happen if they don't pay attention while they are behind the wheel. She's also hopeful there can eventually be signs warning drivers of the consequences. 

"I want them to think about what they're doing," Berg said. 

According to the Department of Public Safety, during the last six years, there were about 13,000 work zone related-crashes on Minnesota roads and nearly 5,000 of those resulted in some kind of injury. 

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Credits

Brett Hoffland

Copyright 2019 - KSTP-TV, LLC A Hubbard Broadcasting Company

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