04-19-2012

State observes highway work zone safety campaign

Kentucky Press News Service

FRANKFORT — A split second of driver distraction can turn a highway work zone into a death zone.

Each year, more 40,000 people in the United States are injured in highway work zones, and hundreds are killed. The average is a death every 13 hours and hundreds of injuries every 13 minutes.

During the past three years in Kentucky, 16 people died and 285 people were injured in highway construction and maintenance work zones, according to a Transportation Cabinet press release.

That underscores the importance of the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet’s work zone safety campaign April 23 - 27, in conjunction with National Work Zone Safety Week.

“Sadly, Kentuckians are killed every year while working to make our roadways safe,” Transportation Secretary Mike Hancock said. “They are not statistics. These are someone’s parents or children."

Work zones involve more than highway crews. They also involve utility crews, mowing contractors, brush cutters and tree trimmers, to name a few. Eighty-five percent of those killed in work zones are not the workers but motorists.

“That indicates a deadly lack of attention to the road ahead,” Bill Bell, director of the Kentucky Office of Highway Safety, said.

The cabinet asks motorists to practice 10 work zone safety tips:

-Expect the unexpected.
-Slow down.
-Don’t tailgate. Keep a safe distance between vehicles.
-Keep a safe distance from workers and equipment.
-Pay attention to signs.
-Obey road crew flaggers.
-Stay alert and minimize distractions.
-Keep up with the traffic flow.
-Schedule enough time and call 511 or go to www.511.ky.gov for Kentucky traffic and travel information.
-Be patient and stay calm.