Many Kentucky drivers will encounter at least one work zone during their daily travels and a split second of driver inattention can turn a highway work zone into a death zone.
In an effort to educate Kentuckians on the importance of following work zone safety and traffic laws, the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet (KYTC) has launched Work Zone Awareness Week, April 11-15, held in conjunction with National Work Zone Awareness Week.
“Titus Morris and Chris Adams are two names that may not be widely known,” said Governor Matt Bevin. “Titus was a son and brother as was Chris in addition to being a husband and father to two daughters. Both worked out on the roadways for the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet. They are among the 93 workers who have died in the line of duty over the past 50 years. In honor of Work Zone Awareness Week, I encourage all Kentuckians to be extra mindful of the people out there working on our roadways. We all hold that responsibility, because we are Kentucky.”
The cabinet is hosting events across the state to highlight the safety message and has produced videos and radio spots featuring Transportation employees and children of employees. The videos are posted on the KYTC YouTube page and will be posted on KYTC’s Facebook and Twitter pages using #93AndNoMore. The radio public service announcements ask drivers to be “work zone alert.”
“Inattentive drivers are not prepared for sudden decreases in speed and last-minute lane changes,” said KYTC Acting Secretary Greg Thomas. “We always encourage drivers to pay attention and ask for them to be extra-alert when entering a work zone.”
National Work Zone Awareness Week is the traditional start of construction season, when the number of workers on roads and highways increases. Cabinet engineers and contractors work to design projects and work schedules that minimize delays and crashes.
According to the Federal Highway Administration, on average, one person dies every 13 hours and one person is injured every 13 minutes in a work zone in the United States.
“We’re asking drivers to consider the families,” said Acting Secretary Thomas. “They want their loved ones home safe each night.”
The cabinet asks motorists to practice 10 work zone safety tips:
1. Expect the unexpected. Work zone configurations can change without notice.
2. Pay attention. Don’t text or talk on the phone and avoid taking your hands off the wheel.
3. Watch for speed limit reductions, narrowing lanes, changing traffic patterns, and – most importantly – highway workers.
4. Respect the posted speed limits and safely merge as soon as safely possible, allowing traffic to flow smoothly.
5. Be patient. Keep in mind, driving 45 mph instead of 55 mph through a five mile work zone will only add 1.2 minutes to your trip. Speeding and aggressive driving is a major cause of work zone crashes.
6. Keep a safe distance on all sides of your vehicles and maintain a safe following distance. Rear-end collisions are the most common type of work zone crash.
7. Respect the flaggers and obey their guidance. A flagger has the same authority as a regulatory sign, so you can be cited for disobeying his or her directions.
8. Follow instructions on construction signage. Those signs are carefully selected to give drivers accurate information and important warnings.
9. Know before you go. Call 511, go to www.511.ky.gov, or use the free WAZE app for traffic and travel information. Select alternate routes if possible to avoid the work zone. If the work zone cannot be avoided, expect delays and allow extra travel time.
10. Stay calm. Remember that the construction crews are working to make the road better for you.