BATON ROUGE - With the beginning of another busy season of highway construction in Louisiana fast approaching, the Governor’s Office along with the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development (LA DOTD) urges drivers across Louisiana to remember safety as they travel through work zones this year. LA DOTD plans to highlight this message during National Work Zone Awareness Week, April 4-10, 2004.
Two cone memorials will be erected by LA DOTD in memory of the 1,181 motorists and highway workers who were killed in work zones nationwide and the 14 people killed in work zones in Louisiana during the year 2002. One of these cone memorials will be placed in front of LA DOTD headquarters and the other will be placed in the median of West End Boulevard in New Orleans, near the I-610/I-10 interchange.
During 2002, 14 people were killed and 688 injured in work zone related crashes in Louisiana statewide. This is a 40 percent decrease in Louisiana work zone fatalities from 2001. The reasons for this sharp decrease in fatalities is due to LA DOTD implementing new work zone traffic control standards and specifications on projects statewide and a new training program for highway workers in work zones. Motorists’ mobility has also been improved through the work zone by LADOTD doing more work during off-peak hours and at night.
“The major causes of collisions in highway work zones are speeding and following too closely. Don’t be a Tailgator!” said Ken Perret, Assistant Secretary, Office of Planning and Programming, LA DOTD. “The extensive construction in Louisiana, including some 385 projects underway at this time, makes public awareness of work zone safety essential,” he continued. All drivers need to stay alert and pay close attention to the orange signs and work zone devices, such as cones, barrels and barricades.
“Building safer roads calls for patience, good judgment, courtesy and understanding on the part of all motorists and construction workers,” according to Perret.
To better inform the driving public of the traffic conditions in specific work zone areas, LA DOTD has implemented a pilot project to evaluate a temporary Intelligent Transportation System (ITS) work zone information application in the New Orleans area. This system continues to inform motorists traveling through the work zones on I-10 of the real-time status of the work zone each day.
LA DOTD has also implemented a new policy for police officers in work zones. This policy defines how police officers will assist LA DOTD in drawing drivers’ attention to the work zone signs and roadway changes. It also defines how the police officers will take enforcement actions against drivers who are not obeying the work zone signs or driving through work zones in a careless manner. This is a major step towards making Louisiana work zones safer.
Organizations participating in National Work Zone Awareness Week in Louisiana are the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development, the Federal Highway Administration, the Association of General Contractors, and Louisiana State Police. National Work Zone Awareness Week will be kicked off in Louisiana with a press conference on the front lawn of LA DOTD Headquarters, 1201 Capitol Access Road, Baton Rouge, on April 7, 2004, at 10a.m.