WICHITA FALLS (KFDX/KJTL) — While commuting to work, dropping the kids off at school, or just running errands, chances are you’re going to pass a work zone while you’re out and about on the road.

In an effort to lower the number of fatalities in a work zone TxDOT is kicking off its ‘National Work Zone Safety Week’.

If you happen to pass TxDOT’s Southwest Parkway location, you’ll notice the fairly new Barrell Man, who is surrounded by hundreds of cones. 205 in fact to show the number of deaths in a work zone last year alone. Giving you a good sense of how staggering those numbers really are.

“This number is significant but even more significant is that 85 percent of those 205 people were drivers and passengers in cars,” TxDOT PIO, Adelè Lewis said.

With one specific death being an actual road worker in a work zone. But Lewis said they have seen a 16 percent decrease in 2022, the first time they’ve seen a decrease since 2018.

“The people that are really dying in mass numbers are the public in their own cars, so that is tragic and you hold the keys to your own life right then and there. So it’s up to you to drive through a work zone to be extra cautious,” Lewis said.

Lewis said when approaching a work zone be observant of your surroundings, pay attention to the flaggers, and watch for trucks entering and exiting the work zone. Most importantly, slow down, something that could be the difference between life and death.

“We take care of nine counties in Texas and in those nine counties we had 186 traffic crashes in work zones and that resulted in one fatality and it happened right here in Wichita Falls city limits,” Lewis said.

Lewis said it’s not just a courtesy for these workers, it’s the law.

“We actually have a “move over slow down” law in the State of Texas so if you come up on a work zone and you cannot vacate the lane that you’re in and be a complete lane away from the workers you need to slow down to 20 miles per hour under the speed limit and creep by them,” Lewis said.

That way everybody gets home safe at the end of the day.

For more information on TXDOT’S “National Work Zone Safety Week” and how you can take a picture with Barrel Man, click here.