Work Zone Awareness Week reminds motorists to be alert, drive safe

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Photo by Amanda Simmons/Press-Tribune | Cones were placed at the front of the DOTD Dist. 4 conference room Monday in honor of the 13 lives lost in work zone accidents since 2016 in Louisiana.

The Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development kicked off National Work Zone Awareness Week today in the Shreveport-Bossier, Monroe, Chase & Alexandria DOTD Districts.

Each year in the spring, National Work Zone Awareness Week is held to bring national attention to motorist and worker safety and mobility issues in work zones. The week of April 9-13, 2018 is being recognized nationally, as well as by numerous individual states.

This year’s theme is “Work Zone Safety: Everybody’s Responsibility,” emphasizing the need for everyone to be aware of the extreme dangers of driving carelessly through construction zones.

Across the nation, 765 people were killed in work zones. Erin Buchanan, DOTD Public Information Officer (Dist. 4), said that number increased from the previous year.

In 2016, there were 12 fatalities in Louisiana work zones, the most recent data available compiled by the Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS). Sadly, LA-DOTD lost one of its own in July 2017. Paul Featherston, a 24-year DOTD employee, was killed while performing road maintenance in the Lafayette District. He was 63 years old.

“We are working to reduce the number fatalities to zero,” Buchanan said. “We’re confident that this ongoing effort will satisfy that goal, but we’ve still got a lot of work to do.”

DOTD Dist. 4 Administrator David North said work zone safety is something that’s constantly dealt with.

“It’s a concern for the workmen and the safety of the motoring public,” North said. “I caution everyone to be aware that there are people who have to work out there that have to be there.”

The awareness campaign began in 1999, and is traditionally held near the start of every spring construction season and is dedicated to promoting safe driving practices, particularly while driving through work zones.