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|Federal Highway Administration > Publications > Public Roads > Vol. 63· No. 5 > National Work Zone Safety Awareness Week|
National Work Zone Safety Awareness Week
To help reduce fatalities and injuries in highway construction areas, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) Administrator Kenneth R. Wykle, American Traffic Safety Services Association (ATSSA) Executive Director Roger A. Wentz, and American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) President Thomas R. Warne signed an agreement on Dec. 15, 1999 designating April 3 through 7 as National Work Zone Safety Awareness Week.
In the past decade, more than 8,000 people lost their lives in work zone crashes. Fatalities in 1998 rose to 772, reversing a three-year decline in work zone fatalities. Approximately 37,000 people were injured in work zones in 1998.
"This agreement underscores our commitment to safety, which is President Clinton's highest transportation priority," U.S. Secretary of Transportation Rodney E. Slater said. "This new safety partnership will help save lives and prevent injuries in work zones."
The purpose of the special work zone safety week is to increase awareness of the need to be especially attentive and safety-conscious when operating in a work zone.
"Despite these alarming numbers [of fatalities and injuries], the motoring public generally doesn't realize the extent of this situation, nor do they recognize that their actions can dramatically reduce these figures," said Thomas W. Flaherty, ATSSA's Safety Committee chairman. "Work zone workers' environments include motor vehicles zipping by at speeds of 55 to 75 miles-per-hour, just inches from their work space. In fact, speeding traffic is the number one cause of injury and death in our nation's work zones. Simply slowing down and paying attention can and will save lives."
This message is intended for the driving public and construction workers. It is also intended to generate dialog among highway program managers in the public and private sectors.
"FHWA is committed to working with our safety partners to improve work zone safety and to reduce the number of crashes and fatalities on our nation's highways," Wykle said. "We have one of the safest highway systems in the world, but we must make it even safer for highway workers and motorists."
The partnering organizations will work together to:
"Safety is a top concern to AASHTO's member departments, and far too many fatalities and injuries occur in work zones each year," Warne said. "AASHTO is dedicated to this effort to inform the public of the problem and to educate drivers on how to get through work zones in order to ensure their safety and that of the highway workers."
"Roadway work zones are a way of life in every community across America. Motorists need to be aware of them and the workers within them," Wentz said. "If drivers would simply slow to posted speed limits in work zones, disengage from distracting activities such as cellular telephone usage, and be aware of the workers, countless lives would be saved."
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