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Rick Capka, Deputy Administrator, FHWA
Remarks as prepared for delivery
6th Annual National Work Zone Awareness Week
Woodrow Wilson Bridge (Maryland Side), April 5, 2005

Did you know motor vehicle crashes are the number one cause of death for every age from three to thirty-three?

That means more young Americans die from crashes than from cancer, heart disease, drowning, suicide, or anything else. It's dangerous out here.

Safety is our number one priority and a job that is never finished. That's why President Bush, Secretary Mineta and the U.S. Department of Transportation have made safety a major focus of transportation legislation now before Congress. Our proposal doubles total funding for highway safety programs. The Federal Highways is committed to the Bush Administration goal of dramatically improving safety on our highways.

The closest that I've come to working in a work zone was changing a flat tire in a breakdown lane. Despite putting out a warning triangle, it was an anxiety-filled experience and not something that I want to do again, even in the best of weather conditions!

There was no barrier to protect me . . . and traffic moving by at 65 miles per hour or faster makes an impression. It only takes a second for an inattentive driver to cause a catastrophe.

Highway workers face the same risks everyday! We're asking drivers to remember that for thousands of men and women, the highway is their workplace. But work zone safety is not just "their problem." It's more than workers who are at risk. It's everyone.

How are we doing with our problem? In 2003, there were 1,028 fatalities in work zone motor vehicle crashes. 1028 fatalities are too many, but it is down about 13 percent from the year before. We want to keep the downward trend going.


  • Drive the posted speed through work zones and watch out for workers who keep your roads in good repair.

  • Don't tailgate! Keep a safe distance between you and the car or truck in front. More than four out of five work zone fatalities are drivers and passengers -- and rear-end crashes are the most common type of work zone crash.

Federal Highways has a top ten list of work zone driving tips. I encourage you to visit our web site -- fhwa.dot.gov -- and click on the orange-and-white safety barrel. These tips are a way to keep you, your passengers, and highway workers safe.

We may be frustrated at times, but we need work zones. They are needed to keep our roads in top condition and to protect the mobility of the American people.

With thousands of work zones in place across America every day, we are calling on everyone to make work zones -- really to make all roads --safer. We all benefit from safer roads and fewer delays.

Let's keep working together to save lives!


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