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Remarks as prepared for delivery
Rick Capka, FHWA Administrator
8th Annual National Work Zone Awareness Week
Tuesday, April 3, 2007

I am pleased to join this great team of public sector and private sector leaders this morning to shine a spotlight on a critical challenge for all of us . . . Work Zone Safety.

What a great day to be outside! But it will not be a great day for the families and friends of the three who will be killed or the 78 who will be injured in work zones today. It will not be a great day for the families and friends of the 118 who will die or the 7400 who will be injured on our highways today!

There will be nothing "great" for them today.

One of the toughest challenges that we face as a nation -- is the need to keep our roads safe. More than 43,000 people die in traffic crashes each year.

That's why President Bush -- and Secretary Peters -- pushed to include new provisions in our highway legislation to require better state safety planning and to provide new funding to save lives.

Our highways are the backbone of the world's strongest economy as shippers move freight from origin to destinations. Our highways provide the American family an unparalleled quality of life.

Yet our highways are being strained at the seams. They are aging and they are congested and they need attention.

Work zones are the result and are a necessary fact of life. They are particularly so now, as road crews take advantage of warmer weather to quicken the pace of new construction and repairs.

The work zone is a dangerous place.

If you have ever changed a tire on one of our highways, as I have had to . . . even after pulling off well to the right and marked with the bright orange safety triangle, you can readily understand the risks that highway workers face each and every day!

They are working for us -- to keep us mobile.

We all have an important mission to keep our work zones safe for both the workers and fellow motorists. Eighty percent of those who die in work zone crashes are motorists. We have to use our heads and good common sense. We have to be patient and alert.

FHWA 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.

  • Be alert - expect the unexpected
  • Slow down - keep your distance from the vehicle in front and from the workers.
  • Be patient and be courteous
  • Obey signs and flaggers
  • Keep up with the flow of traffic
  • Stay informed and plan your trip accordingly

Safe highways depend on safe drivers.

Let's keep working together to save lives. Let's work together to make every day a great day for those who use our highways and pass through our work zones!


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