Slow Down to Get There
ASHLAND, Ky. (April 13, 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 I-64 in Boyd County.
“Driving conditions change drastically inside many work zones,” said Phil Mauney, construction branch manager in District 9 of the Transportation Cabinet’s Department of Highways. “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 Interstate 64 in Boyd County at mile point 181.5, near the US 60 interchange. Maintenance crews will be working to repair the bridges that cross over US 60. This work is just one example of evening construction activity that will occur across the state.
In Kentucky, there were 8 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 last year.
During 2004, there were four fatalities in work zones along with 177 injuries and 560 total crashes. Fortunately, the statistics from 2004 and 2005 are better than in 2003. During 2003 there were 9 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.”
Law enforcement officers will also be constantly monitoring work zone for speeding and reckless drivers. 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.