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Remarks as prepared for delivery
Jeffrey Lindley, Associate Administrator for Safety, FHWA
Kickoff Event -- National Work Zone Awareness Week
April 8, 2008, Sacramento, California

I want to offer my condolences to the families who suffered the loss of a loved one in the line of duty.

Did you know motor vehicle crashes are the number one cause of death for every age from two to thirty-four? That means more young Americans die from crashes than from cancer, heart disease, homicide, suicide, or anything else.

This is why safety is the number one priority at the United States Department of Transportation. It's why President Bush, Secretary Peters and all of us at the Federal Highway Administration are dedicated to reducing crashes and deaths on highways and in work zones.

Work zones are a daily fact of life as road crews work tirelessly to improve our roads and our quality of life. And as more states look at innovative finance and tap the billions of dollars available in the private sector, we're likely to see more work zones in coming years.

We ask drivers to remember that for thousands of men and women, the highway is their workplace. They work in the zone to keep our roads in top condition so WE can get where we're going.

And we need to be careful. Eighty-five percent of those killed in a work zone are drivers or passengers. As Caltrans says so well, "Slow for the Cone Zone."

This state has had extraordinary success with work zone fatalities dropping from 155 in 2005 to 100 in 2006. Nationally, in 2006, there were 1,010 fatalities in work zones. That's down, slightly, from 2005, but we must keep the downward trend going.

States are doing their part. State DOTs are emphasizing work zone safety in their Strategic Highway Safety Plans. They are raising the bar with better reflectivity for signs, better visibility for clothing, better protective barriers, better enforcement, and better campaigns to keep the public informed.

At the federal level, we are improving work zone guidelines and have provided safety training to more than 7,000 workers and managers in the last six months!

With thousands of work zones in place across America every day, we are calling on everyone --

  • Engineers and planners,
  • Police and courts,
  • All levels of government to take responsibility for safety.

We must make all roads, both rural and urban ... congested and clear ... as safe as we possibly can.

Let's keep working together to save lives!


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