BATON ROUGE – “Slow down or pay up” is the message transportation officials have for drivers in work zones this May in observance of Work Zone Awareness Week, combined with increased enforcement of lower speeds and the start of a statewide public service announcement campaign.
Gov. Kathleen Babineaux Blanco has proclaimed the last two weeks of May as an extended Work Zone Awareness Week, with enforcement as the theme. Louisiana State Police, in cooperation with Louisiana State Department of Transportation and Development and the Federal Highway Administration, are highlighting enforcement of lower speeds in several work zones throughout the state.
Activities for Work Zone Awareness Week include a Cone Memorial on the front lawn of DOTD headquarters and a national Work Zone Memorial Wall in the headquarters lobby, in honor of each of the 1,028 people killed nationwide in work zones in 2003.
In an effort to raise public awareness, DOTD construction contracts include overtime hours for Louisiana State Police enforcement, specifically for current and upcoming projects on I-20 in Monroe and I-10 in New Orleans and Metairie. Fines increase by 50 percent for speeding in work zones.
Nine people died in Louisiana’s work zones in 2003, the most recent year for which figures were available from the federal Fatality Analysis Reporting System, and all were either drivers or passengers. Another 940 people were injured, according to the federal data. Nationally, four of five fatalities in work zones are vehicle occupants.
The number of work zone fatalities has declined by five deaths, or 35.7 percent, in Louisiana from 14 in 2002. However, the total number has increased 50 percent over the past decade, from six deaths in Louisiana work zones in 1993.
From 1993 to 2003, 127 people have died in Louisiana work-zone crashes.
Ken Perret, assistant secretary of DOTD’s Office of Planning and Programming, said, “Work zones simply require more concentration than roads without construction, and that’s why lower speed limits are posted – to allow you time to avoid becoming a statistic.”
In an effort to inform citizens of the extra caution needed while driving through work zones, Col. Henry Whitehorn, Louisiana State Police superintendent, has lent his voice to a radio public service announcement aimed at alerting motorists to the need for slower speeds in work zones.
The PSA will air statewide on Louisiana Network beginning Memorial Day and will run for the first four weeks of June.
“Lower speed limits may increase your sense of aggravation, but those speed limits are posted because work zones require more concentration than everyday roads,” according to Whitehorn’s PSA.
DOTD’s Cone Memorial has been placed on the front lawn of its headquarters on Capitol Access Road. The Work Zone Memorial Wall, a national memorial to all those killed in work zones, is being displayed in the headquarters lobby to remind employees and visitors of the need for caution while driving through Louisiana’s work zones.
To prevent crashes in work zones, motorists are urged to adhere to the following tips:
1. Stay alert: Dedicate your full attention to the roadway.
2. Pay close attention: Signs and flaggers in the work zone save lives.
3. Turn on your headlights: Workers and other motorists must see you.
4. Don’t tailgate: Don’t follow too closely to the vehicle in front of you.
5. Don’t speed: Note the posted speed limits in and around the work zone.
6. Keep up with the traffic flow.
7. Don’t change lanes in the work zone.
8. Minimize distractions: Avoid changing radio stations and using cell phones while driving in the work zone.
9. Expect the unexpected: Keep an eye out for workers and their equipment.
10. Be patient: Remember the work-zone crew members are working to improve your future ride.
National Work Zone Awareness Week
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