BATON ROUGE, La. – Secretary Sherri H. LeBas, P.E, represented the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development (DOTD) today at a press conference to discuss the importance of driving safely through work zones. The press conference was held in conjunction with National Work Zone Awareness Week, which has been declared by Gov. Bobby Jindal as April 23-27 in Louisiana.
Secretary LeBas said, "Tremendous progress has been made to improve safety on Louisiana’s roadways. Fatalities on public roads in Louisiana have decreased from 993 in 2007 to 720 in 2010. A 30 percent decrease in three years is remarkable, but we still have a long way to go. I urge everyone to practice safe driving and remain cautious and focused, especially when traveling through Louisiana’s work zones."
The press conference was held on the front lawn of DOTD Headquarters at 10 a.m., where a 576-cone memorial was displayed to represent the lives lost nationwide in work zones in 2010, 15 deaths occurring in Louisiana with five of those in the greater Baton Rouge area. Additionally, statistics show that 289 people have died from motor-vehicle crashes in Louisiana’s work zones since 1989 and 737 injuries occurred in Louisiana work zones in 2010. The data gathered is the most recent year for which figures were available from the federal Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS).
Speakers at the ceremony included members of the Destination Zero Deaths initiative Carl Highsmith, Project Delivery Team Leader, Federal Highway Administration, Louisiana Division; Col. Michael D. Edmonson, Superintendent, Louisiana State Police and Lt. Col. John LeBlanc, Executive Director, Louisiana Highway Safety Commission. Additionally, Debra Lemoine, spouse of former DOTD employee Ronald Bordelon, addressed the audience. Bordelon lost his life in a work zone when he was struck by a vehicle while performing survey work near Vinton, La. Bordelon was employed with DOTD for approximately 10 years.
"The Federal Highway Administration is committed to reducing the number of fatalities on our roadways. We consider one fatality, too many, and we will continue to work with DOTD to fund and implement projects and programs that provide innovative, cost effective solutions that increase safety," said Highsmith.
Edmonson said, "The Louisiana State Police is a proud partner with the Department of Transportation and Development as we continue to work collectively to promote work zone safety in Louisiana. Troopers remain committed to aggressive enforcement and delivering a proactive safety education message. Through these efforts, we hope to increase public awareness and directly improve safety not only for the workers, but for the motoring public as well."
"As Secretary LeBas stated, great strides have been made to decrease the number of fatalities on our roadways, but this also involves driver responsibility. It is important for motorists to do their part and obey the rules of the road by wearing their seatbelts, obeying posted speeds, especially in construction zones, and refraining from drinking, driving and texting," said Lt. Col. LeBlanc.
"Work zones are not just made up of cones and pavement; they are the workplace of real people. Real people like my husband who was tragically killed in a work zone. Your actions behind the wheel affects lives," said Lemoine.
In addition to the cone memorial and press conference at DOTD headquarters in Baton Rouge, DOTD district offices in New Orleans, Lafayette, Shreveport and Monroe will be hosting similar events today to stress the importance of driving safely through work zones.
Earlier in the month, DOTD held a statewide safety summit for federal, state and local safety stakeholders to discuss the implementation of Louisiana’s Strategic Highway Safety Plan advocating zero deaths on Louisiana’s roadways. Also, DOTD introduced its "Vested Interest in Safety" Facebook campaign displaying photos of employees, community members and local leaders wearing orange safety vests throughout the state.
DOTD is committed to delivering transportation and public works systems that enhance the quality of life. In addition to more than 16,600 miles of roadway, including over 890 miles of interstate, DOTD supports the development of the state’s aviation, marine and rail infrastructures. Through this work, we are able to facilitate economic development, create job opportunities, improve vital evacuation routes, and make critical freight corridors safer and more efficient.
For more information, please visit www.dotd.la.gov, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or call DOTD’s Customer Service Center at (225) 379-1232 or 1-877-4LADOTD (1-877-452-3683). Business hours are 7:30 a.m. - 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.
Motorists can access up-to-date travel information by dialing 511 or by visiting www.511la.org. Out of-state travelers can call 1-888-ROAD-511 (1-888-762-3511).