Baton Rouge, La. – The Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development (DOTD) announces that it will observe Work Zone Awareness Week April 26-30. This is a nationwide safety campaign designed to bring awareness to the men and women in work zones across the country, and to encourage motorists to use safety precautions while driving through the work zones.
The theme for this year’s campaign is Drive Safe. Work Safe. Save Lives., which reinforces the message that DOTD has been sending to drivers to remember to pay attention and slowdown in work zones.
“If you drive carefully you can save the lives of those who work on our very active roadways,” said Gov. John Bel Edwards. “Every day these employees put themselves in potentially dangerous situations. Most fatal work zones crashes occur in the summer and in the fall, and with the increase in funding for infrastructure improvements comes an increase in work zones.”
“Safety is our top priority, which is why we take Work Zone Awareness Week seriously each year and enthusiastically participate,” said DOTD Secretary Shawn D. Wilson, Ph.D. “With all of the investment that we have in this state, as well as in this country, work zones are a very common place, so our message to the traveling public is always the same: slow down, avoid distractions in the vehicle, and be alert for work crews. It takes a second to be distracted and in that one second a life could be lost. One death is too many. The department has a robust legislative agenda this legislative session focused on Safety. Going forward, we have to have policies and practices that prioritize safety, embrace innovation, apply technological advances, and implemented in a timely fashion to benefit all travelers.”
As part of Work Zone Awareness Week, the yearly safety cone memorial will be set up in front of DOTD headquarters in Baton Rouge. The memorial recognizes those who have lost their lives in work zones. In 2019, there were 762 fatal crashes and 842 fatalities in work zones nationwide. That same year in Louisiana, there were 10 fatal crashes and 11 fatalities, an increase of 450% in fatalities from the previous year. Nationwide, there were 135 worker fatalities in 2019, and two of those were work zone related fatalities in Louisiana.
“Work zone safety awareness is a very important issue that needs to be placed front and center,” said Lisa Freeman, Louisiana Highway Safety Commission Executive Director. “When we look at the issue of work zone safety in the eyes of those who actually work in this environment, it becomes clear that we all must be responsible and tentative drivers. Hundreds of these workers are seriously injured, and there are those who die each year, because drivers don’t slow down, put their phones down, choose to drive impaired, and often times, a deadly combination of all these things. Committing to a safe driving behavior is a win-win for everyone on the roadway.”
“One thing that is a priority for me to know is if my dad is okay in the situations he is constantly put in while being on the road,” said Jalecia Banks, the daughter of DOTD worker Desmond Banks. “With the drivers I have seen on the road, it is a constant worry that constantly roams around in my mind. Drivers should be mindful of the things they do on the road. Not only is your life at risk, others’ lives are at risk. If you are not paying attention you could swerve off the road and hit another car, or hit a worker that has children.”
“During national Work Zone Awareness week, our trippers wish to remind Louisiana drivers to make sound choices behind the wheel, especially when traveling in construction zones,” said Louisiana State Police Superintendent Lamar Davis.
DOTD, as well as other transportation agencies nationwide, will be participating in Go Orange Day on April 28 to show support for work zone safety. We encourage the public to participate as well. Those wishing to participate or follow along on social media can do so by using the hashtags #GoOrange4Safety and #NWZAW.
Since 1999, the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, the Federal Highway Administration, and the American Traffic Safety Services Association have coordinated and sponsored National Work Zone Awareness Week. For more information about Work Zone Awareness, visit www.destinationzerodeaths.com. For information on DOTD, 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).