Baton Rouge, La. – The theme of this year’s Work Zone Awareness Week, which will be held April 3-9, is “Let them work, let them live,” according to state and federal transportation officials.
Drivers are urged to be cautious and obey posted speed limits in work zones since the construction zone is the office of these workers.
Activities will include a cone memorial, airing a Louisiana State Police (LSP) public service announcement and a Work-Zone Safety Day event Thursday at the Slidell Welcome Center.
Johnny Bradberry, the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development (DOTD) secretary, said, “Work zones simply require more focus than roads without construction, and that’s why lower speed limits are posted – to allow drivers time to avoid becoming a statistic or making someone else one.”
DOTD has set up a cone memorial on the front lawn of its headquarters building on Capitol Access Road. The memorial will be in remembrance of the 1,068 people killed nationwide in work zones in 2004.
In 2004, the most recent year for which figures were available from the federal Fatality Analysis Reporting System, 14 people were killed in Louisiana’s work zones. This number represents a 35 percent increase from 2003, when nine people died. Work-zone fatalities nationally have been increasing for more than a decade. Between the years 1995-1999, a work-zone fatality occurred once every 11.4 hours; from 1999-2003, a work-zone fatality occurred once every 8.3 hours.
In an effort to raise public awareness, DOTD construction contracts include money for enforcement. Fines increase by 50 percent for speeding in work zones.
To remind citizens of the extra caution needed while driving through work zones, Col. Henry Whitehorn, LSP superintendent, has lent his voice to a radio PSA aimed at alerting motorists of safe driving in work zones.
The PSA will air statewide on Louisiana Network beginning in early April and will run throughout the entire month.
“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.
In addition to the cone memorial, DOTD also will host a Work Zone Safety Day at the Slidell Welcome Center on Thursday, April 6. Volunteers from DOTD and FHWA will hand out free soft drinks and snacks as well as literature on work-zone safety.
To prevent accidents 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 work-zone flaggers save lives.
3. Turn on your headlights: Workers and other motorists must be able to 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.
Photo available: To have a digital copy of the cone memorial photo e-mailed to you, please call DOTD Public Information at the number above.