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

FHWA 17-12
Monday, April 23, 2011
Contact: Kelly Hanahan
Tel: 202-366-0660

U.S. Transportation Secretary LaHood Reminds Drivers to Pay Special Attention in Work Zones Across the Nation

Work Zone Fatalities Lowest in 30 Years as FHWA Administrator Mendez Kicks Off National Work Zone Awareness Week In St. Louis

ST.LOUIS - As construction season arrives for many states across the country, U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood called on drivers to honor National Work Zone Awareness week and provide their undivided attention in work zones this week and every week to continue decreasing work zone fatalities.

"We've made a lot of progress reducing fatalities for construction crews working on our nation's roads, but even one death is too many," said Secretary LaHood. "It's critical for drivers to slow down, look for changes in traffic patterns and watch for the men and women who are working to improve our nation's highways and bridges."

Federal Highway Administrator Victor Mendez kicked off the annual National Work Zone Awareness Week today at a construction site near Route 141 in St. Louis, a reconstruction project that will expand the route from two lanes to six to improve safety and reduce congestion.

"Dedicated workers are building and maintaining the roads and bridges we rely on every day to get us where we need to go safely," said Administrator Mendez. "The least we can do as drivers is to keep them safe by obeying posted speed limits. We must also pay extra attention in work zones, which means putting away our cell phones and watching out for any changes to normal road conditions."

In 2010, the most recent year for which data are available, highway work zone fatalities fell to 576-the least since 1982. While work zone fatalities have been cut in half over the last 10 years from a high of 1,186 in 2002, more remains to be done to save lives and prevent injury. In 2010, states reported 37,000 work zone-related injuries, which translates to an average of four people injured in a work zone every hour.

The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) has taken steps in the past several years to improve work zone planning and design, increase training, strengthen law enforcement near work zones and heighten awareness among drivers, all of which has helped reduce the number of work zone fatalities to record lows.

National Work Zone Awareness Week is an annual campaign held at the start of construction season to encourage safe driving through highway construction sites and to bring national attention to motorist and worker safety and mobility issues in work zones. Local, state and federal transportation officials observe it in April, the start of highway construction season across most of the country.

For more information on National Work Zone Awareness Week, visit http://www.ops.fhwa.dot.gov/wz/outreach/wz_awareness.htm.

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