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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

Tuesday, April 3, 2007
Contact: Doug Hecox
(202) 366-0660
FHWA 04-07

Return of Road Work Across America Calls for Careful Drivers
FHWA Administrator Capka Kicks Off 'National Work Zone Awareness Week 2007'

As the warm weather of spring returns, orange signs, vests and cones are in full bloom across America's highways – requiring drivers to slow down and be more careful, said FHWA Administrator J. Richard Capka today at the kick-off of National Work Zone Awareness Week on the Woodrow Wilson Bridge near Washington, D.C.

In 2005, 1,074 people died in highway work zones – roughly, one fatality every eight hours. Drivers and passengers are four times more likely to be injured or killed in a highway work zone than the workers themselves, according to FHWA data.

"Because America's highways are getting more congested, the risk of crashes increases," Capka said. "Congestion relief is critical to the economy and keeping highways crash-free and operating at optimal efficiency is critical to congestion relief."

Four out of five victims in work zone crashes are motorists, not members of road crews, underscoring the need for safe driving in work zones. "By watching road signs and obeying speed limits, we can keep road crews safe so they can finish their work and return safely to their families," he added.

Highway construction typically begins in early spring, when warmer weather and more daylight give state and local highway agencies opportunities to repair roads damaged by winter weather or for construction critical to relieving the nation's traffic congestion.

Capka invited drivers to remember FHWA's "Ten Tips for Work Zone Driving," such as slowing down, avoiding tailgating and not using cell phones while behind the wheel. The tips can be found at www.fhwa.dot.gov/safetytips.

The federal government is actively working to improve highway safety and mobility. The FHWA is researching numerous safety improvements, including stronger pavement to reduce the frequency of road repairs, designing work zones to protect workers, and providing real-time information to help motorists plan alternate travel routes. A well-designed work zone impacts positively on both safety and mobility, he said.

The FHWA has supported National Work Zone Awareness Week since its creation in 1999, Capka said.


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