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Remarks by Greg Nadeau, Deputy Administrator, FHWA

National Work Zone Safety Awareness Week

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Seattle, Washington

It’s a pleasure to join all of you here this morning to kick off National Work Zone Awareness Week.

I’m pleased to follow the tradition set by Victor Mendez to honor the men and women who build our roads, bridges and tunnels – and to be an advocate for their safety.

Victor is now the Department’s Acting Deputy Secretary, and it’s my honor to fulfill his duties at FHWA – including being here today.

Victor actually was here with many of you almost two years ago to help break ground on this important project. When the Viaduct is finished, it will play a major role in Seattle’s future and its economy.

In the meantime, it presents some safety challenges to the people who work here, the commuters who drive through here and the truck drivers who navigate these streets and keep the economy moving.

So we’re very pleased to have my colleague Anne Ferro and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration as partners in this effort.

As this year’s theme suggests, speeding through a work zone can be a costly mistake.

While we’ve made progress in reducing work zone deaths over the last decade, the most recent numbers actually show that 19 more people died in work zone crashes in 2012 than did the year before.

And, people are often surprised to learn that four in every five victims of a work zone crash are drivers and their passengers.

And so we appreciate Secretary Peterson, Chief Batiste and everyone here in Washington for putting together this event to remind people to drive slowly and carefully through work zones.

We need to remind people to pay attention to changing road conditions, to workers and equipment, and to each other.

And we need to continue our federal, state and local efforts to improve work zone planning and enhance worker training.

Those of us in the transportation community see work zones as a good thing. They represent good jobs being created and an investment in our infrastructure and our economic future.

With the start of a new construction season – and as much of the nation begins to thaw out – we hope to see people working on job sites all across America.

President Obama has proposed a four-year, $302 billion transportation plan to help states plan and invest in projects like this one well into the future.

But the heart and soul of these projects are the men and women who roll up their sleeves and build them.

And when lives are lost, we mourn those losses as one transportation family.

And so, I join you in recognizing the 59 Washington State DOT employees who have died in work zone accidents since 1950.

Let’s pledge to continue to focus on work zone safety – not just this week, but every day of every week.

One area where we really need to make progress is distracted driving.

It’s always dangerous to text or talk on the phone while you’re driving. But it’s especially dangerous in a work zone, where road conditions can change hour to hour.

I’m pleased that Washington is one of 42 states and the District of Columbia to ban texting behind the wheel.

But in addition to tough laws and strong enforcement, let’s all exercise some basic common sense.

That means to always buckle your seat belt, put away your cell phone when you’re driving, slow down and pay extra attention in work zones, and simply drive safely.

Thank you very much!

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Page posted on May 21, 2015.
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