See which Michigan communities have the most work zone crashes

Last spring, Rene Rangel Jr., 58, was struck by a vehicle and killed while working in a road construction area in southwestern Michigan.

Weeks later, 70-year-old James Lockwood was fatally struck while directing traffic through a road construction zone in Ingham County.

The two men were among at least 20 people killed in Michigan work zones last year. That is more than the ten-year average of 17.7 fatalities per year.

Overall, the state reported 7,237 vehicle crashes in the work zone in 2023, resulting in 1,896 injuries, according to preliminary data from the state Department of Transportation.

Related: ‘You apparently only care about yourself’: Man gets jail for killing road worker

Last year’s totals were slight improvements from 2022. Work zone accidents fell 2.3%, while injuries fell 3.6% and total fatalities fell 13% (23 in 2022 , 20 in 2023).

However, aside from 2022, construction zones in 2023 proved to be more dangerous to workers than any other year going back at least fourteen years.

Rob Coppersmith, executive vice president of the Michigan Infrastructure and Transportation Association, said not enough is being done to protect Michiganders “on both sides of the orange barrel.”

Not surprisingly, the counties with the most work zone accidents in 2022 were those with the highest population.

But when accounting for population differences, no community had more work zone accidents per 10,000 residents than Arenac County. In the northeastern province, where Standish and Au Gres are located, there were 36 work zone accidents, or 24 per 10,000 residents.

Jackson County followed with 17 work zone accidents per 10,000 residents. Rounding out the top five were Macomb (13 per 10,000), Ingham (13) and Kalamazoo (12).

Below is a map of Michigan’s 2022 crash data as reported by the Michigan State Police. Data for 2023 should be available this summer.

Ten provinces had no accidents to report in the work zone. Located mostly in Northern Michigan, they include Charlevoix, Gladwin, Keweenaw, Lake, Leelanau, Luce, Missaukee, Montmorency, Oscoda and Presque Isle.

The same data from the map above can be viewed in the database below. Search for a county or select the different column headings to rearrange the data.

Coppersmith, along with the construction trades association, want Michigan to become the 24th state to add cameras and automated speed enforcement to work zones to better enforce speed limits and hold drivers accountable.

“Speed ​​cameras in work zones are a proven tool to reduce crashes and fatalities,” he said in a prepared statement.

Related: Speed ​​cameras in Michigan construction zones could soon monitor motorists

Last summer, the Michigan House passed a pair of bills — HB 4132 and 4133 — that would allow automatic speed cameras in work zones, as long as a warning sign was posted one mile before the enforcement zone.

Drivers caught driving 10 miles per hour or more over the posted limit could face penalties ranging from a written warning to a fine of up to $300. In the event of a crash, the fines would double.

The proposals, upon arrival in the Senate, remained untouched until March 20, when they were moved from the Senate Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure to the Committee of the Whole. If passed by the Senate, they would go to Governor Gretchen Whitmer for final approval.

“We hope the Michigan Legislature acts quickly to help reduce deaths and protect our work zones by passing this bipartisan legislation,” Coppersmith said.

Earlier this week, the man who killed Rangel Jr. hit on CR 681 in Arlington Township sentenced to a minimum of seven years and two months in prison and a maximum of fifteen years for operating a vehicle in a work zone causing death.

Van Buren County Circuit Judge Kathleen M. Brickley told Logan Brown, 31, that she hopes the ruling will prompt others to approach construction zones more cautiously out of concern for workers.