RICHMOND — April marks the start of highway construction season and that means more work zones. During Work Zone Awareness Week, observed this year from April 7 to 11, the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) joins the highway contracting community and local, state, and federal transportation officials to educate motorists about the potential dangers we all face while driving through highway work zones.
This year’s national theme – “Work Zone Speeding: A Costly Mistake” – emphasizes the potential costs of speeding, especially during the busy roadway construction season.
“Across the commonwealth this winter, our transportation network took a beating from the severe weather Mother Nature delivered,” said Governor Terry McAuliffe. “Thankfully, that seems to have passed, and now the men and women of VDOT are out there working to keep our roads safe. This means more work zones in more places. Please slow down, follow the warning signs and give them the respect they need and deserve to get the job done safely.”
Last year, there were 21 fatalities in Virginia that involved work zone crashes. In 2012 nationwide, there were 609 traffic-related fatalities, 32,000 injuries, 130 worker fatalities and 132 fatal crashes involving large trucks and buses.
“People need to understand that when you’re traveling at high speeds you can arrive at a highway work zone much too fast to stop,” said Virginia Transportation Secretary Aubrey Layne. “Please slow down when approaching construction zones. The time you save just isn’t worth the risks. The consequences do not affect just our highway workers, as four out of five fatalities in work zone crashes are motorists.”
“VDOT wants everyone to recognize how important their actions are to keep Virginia’s work zone areas safe,” said VDOT Commissioner Charlie Kilpatrick. “The high cost of distracted driving and other unsafe behaviors in work zones, is one none of us can afford. Do your part to help keep everyone – motorists and workers – safe. Recognize when you’re approaching a highway work area and react appropriately to the warning signs and traffic flow.”
VDOT offers the following tips to increase safety as you navigate highway work zones:
· Follow the signs. Signs and flaggers will direct you through the work zone. Expect changes in traffic patterns as the project progresses.
· Don’t tailgate. Unexpected stops frequently occur in work zones.
· Don’t speed. Enhanced fines of up to $500 may be levied for speeding in a work zone.
· Focus. Focus your full attention on the road and those traveling around you.
· Never change lanes in the work zone.
· Minimize distractions. Avoid changing radio stations and using phones.
· Expect the unexpected. Keep an eye out for workers and equipment.
· Be patient. Remember, crewmembers are working to improve the highway, and the safety and comfort of your future travels.
· Call 511 (when safe!). Receive up-to-the-minute traffic and weather information from any phone in Virginia. Before you travel, log on to www.511Virginia.org for road and traffic conditions, weather forecasts and live traffic cameras on many major highways.
In recognition of Work Zone Awareness Week, VDOT will hold a vigil to honor its employees who have lost their lives in work zone crashes. The event will be held at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, April 9, at the VDOT Workers’ Memorial. The memorial is located on Interstate 64 on Afton Mountain (milepost 102 eastbound) in Albemarle County. The public is invited to attend.
If you would like to support Work Zone Awareness Week by participating in “Go Orange Day” on Wednesday, April 9, send your photos to VDOTPhotoRequest@VDOT.virginia.gov (with your name and location) and they will be included on VDOT’s Flickr site.
More information about Work Zone Awareness Week is available on VDOT’s website:
Find out about the VDOT Workers Memorial, including information about some of those individuals memorialized on the monument: