Department of Highways, District 10
Slow Down To Get There; Safety Message Urges Motorists to be Cautious & Reduce Speeds in Roadway Work Zones
JACKSON, KY. – (April 3, 2006) -- Warmer weather signals the beginning of road construction season. In an effort to spotlight work zone safety, the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet (KYTC), its employees, highway contractors and law enforcement officers are reminding drivers to slow down, be attentive and drive cautiously through work zones.
"It is the Transportation Cabinet’s number one priority to ensure that our road crews are working in the safest environment possible," said Transportation Cabinet Secretary Bill Nighbert. "These men and women risk their lives every day and every night so that we can safely drive to our destinations."
The theme for the national work zone safety campaign is "Working at the Speed of Night." Building upon the national safety theme, KYTC is coordinating work zone safety events in every highway district. The month-long work zone safety campaign continues with an event tonight along KY 15 in Breathitt County.
"Driving conditions change drastically inside many work zones," said Linda Wagner-Justice, chief district engineer in District 10 of the Transportation Cabinet. "Regardless of the time of day or night, drivers should slow down, expect the unexpected and use extreme caution when driving in a work zone."
The backdrop for tonight’s event will be the KY 15 relocation project in Breathitt County. Although none of the work being done on this project currently takes place along the present highway alignment during evening hours, evening construction activity will occur this summer in many other locations across the state. The primary nighttime impact for drivers on KY 15 is from barrier walls, changing traffic patterns, and temporary pavement markings and signage.
In Kentucky, there were eight fatalities in work zones during 2005, and six of the eight victims were either drivers or passengers of motor vehicles that crashed inside the work zone. There were also 198 injuries from the 528 total traffic crashes in work zones statewide last year, including one injury and 12 accidents in District 10.
During 2004, there were four fatalities in work zones statewode along with 177 injuries and 560 total crashes. Fortunately, the statistics from 2004 and 2005 are better than in 2003. During 2003 there were nine fatalities, 317 injuries and 826 total traffic crashes in Kentucky work zones.
"One accident in a work zone is one too many. Safety in a construction zone concerns workers and the motoring public," said Charles Lovorn, executive director of the Kentucky Association of Highway Contractors. "The construction industry wants the work zone to be safe for everyone. This requires the workers to be aware of their position on the job and requires the motorist to be aware of a safe driving speed, the conditions of traffic flow and to be attentive as they drive through a work zone. One small, careless, mistake by either the worker or the motorist can cause a severe accident."
KYTC work zone safety events are being held in all 12 highway districts across the state.
Law enforcement officers will also be constantly monitoring work zones for speeding and reckless drivers. The District 10 work zone safety event coincides with a Drive Smart safety enforcement blitz along KY 15 in Wolfe, Breathitt and Perry counties. Work zone safety is a growing roadway safety concern in the United States and Kentucky.
"Our responsibility is to ensure traffic laws are followed so we can create the safest possible environment for drivers," said Greg Howard, commissioner of Kentucky Vehicle Enforcement. "We take that responsibility very seriously. The safety of the workers and of the people who are in vehicles going through work zones is at stake."
Statistics from the Federal Highway Administration indicate there were more than 800 work zone fatalities in the U.S. during 2004, which is the most recent complete years’ data.
Safety experts have compiled a "top 10" list of safe driving tips for motorists to remember when traveling through a construction zone. Those tips are:
- Expect the unexpected!
- Slow down!
- Don't tailgate! Keep a safe distance between you and the car ahead of you.
- Keep a safe distance between your vehicle and the construction workers and their equipment.
- Pay attention to the signs!
- Obey road crew flaggers!
- Stay alert and minimize distractions!
- Keep up with the traffic flow.
- Schedule enough time to drive safely. Call 5-1-1 or go to www.511.ky.gov for Kentucky traffic and travel information.
- Be patient and stay calm.