With the traditional spring start to transportation construction season spreading across most of the country, drivers should begin to see orange cones and construction workers repairing transportation infrastructure after the long winter. State departments of transportation and various other agencies marked the occasion with the kickoff of the annual National Work Zone Awareness Week, reminding motorists that lives are at stake when driving through work zones.
The Maryland DOT hosted the national kickoff event April 4 just north of Washington D.C. The theme of the week, "Work zone safety is in your hands," encouraged motorists to drive with caution and focus while expecting the unexpected in roadway work zones.
"Nationally, there were 700 people killed in work zones last year. This is a problem for us, for the industry, for government and private industry, to save lives wherever we can," Maryland Transportation Secretary Pete Rahn said at the event. "This effort is so important as we begin the construction season across the country. We need to get the message out."
Video of the National Work Zone Awareness kickoff event, including Rahn's remarks in their entirety, is available
State DOTs all across the country joined in on the week's festivities. Several buildings and bridges, like the Big Four Bridge in Louisville, Ky., were glowing orange in support of work zone safety. DOT staff and employees of other transportation agencies participated in Go Orange Day on April 5, which encouraged people to sport their orange apparel. Social media hashtags such as #NWZAW, #WorkZoneSafety, #OrangeForSafety, and #Orange4Safety were utilized to send messages of support toward the cause.
AASHTO recently released a public service announcement to correspond with National Work Zone Awareness Week, highlighting the hit and run accident last month that killed two South Carolina Department of Transportation workers. That PSA is available
The national Work Zone Awareness Week began in 1999 when representatives of the Federal Highway Administration, American Traffic Safety Services Association and AASHTO formed an executive committee to manage planning for the event. The coalition now also includes the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, American Road & Transit Builders Association, Associated General Contractors and the DOTs of Virginia, Maryland and Washington, D.C.
More information on the annual event is available
Photo courtesy of Kentucky Transportation Cabinet District 5
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