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Moving the American Economy - U.S. Department of Transportation, Office of Public Affairs, Washington, D.C., www.dot.gov/affairs/briefing.htm - News

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, April 8, 2008
Contact: Doug Hecox
(202) 366-0660
FHWA 07-08

Nation's Top Highway Official Calls for Slower Driving in Work Zones

WASHINGTON - Urging everyone to drive slowly and carefully through highway work zones as repair crews work along the nation's highways, Acting Federal Highway Administrator Jim Ray joined state transportation officials today in kicking off the ninth annual "National Work Zone Awareness Week."

"As thousands of highway repair crews head back to work this season, America's drivers must remember that a work zone is the workplace of thousands of men and women," said Ray. "Driving slowly and carefully keeps everyone safer."

Ray noted that, because motorists are four times more likely to be injured or killed in a work zone than highway workers - often due to other drivers who may be speeding - which is why the slogan this year is "Slow for the Cone Zone." There were 1,010 fatalities in 2006, and work zone fatalities nationwide have increased over the last decade by nearly 50 percent. More than 3,000 work zones are expected on U.S. highways by mid-summer, the peak of travel season.

"Work zones are a daily reality as road crews work tirelessly to improve our quality of life. As more states look at innovative finance and tap the billions of dollars available for transportation investment in the private sector, we're likely to see more work zones in coming years," said Ray.

For maximum safety while driving through a work zone, Ray encouraged drivers to not tailgate and to avoid distractions like texting or using a cellular telephone while driving.

At the national kick-off ceremony in Sacramento today, the FHWA joined the California Department of Transportation in honoring the memory of 170 Caltrans highway workers who died in the line of duty since 1924.

With the American Association of State Highway Transportation Officials, the American Traffic Safety Services Association, the American Road and Transportation Builders Association and others, the FHWA has strongly supported National Work Zone Awareness Week since the event's creation in 1999.

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