State highway department brings awareness to 62 on-duty highway worker deaths since 1929 to kick-start National Work Zone Awareness Week
At least 62 highway workers have died since 1929 while on the job, according to Colorado Department of Transportation reports.
In light of this statistic and the start of construction season, Colorado State Patrol, the Federal Highway Administration and Colorado Contractors Association joined CDOT on Wednesday, April 13, to hold its annual Remembrance Day ceremony to commemorate the lives of the fallen.
The day of reflection kick-starts National Work Zone Awareness Week. This year’s theme is “work zones are a sign to slow down.”
CDOT executive director Shoshana Lew said in a statement that people driving need to remember that men and women working in construction zones are a part of someone’s family. She is urging people to think about them as if they were a part of their family.
Col. Matthew Packard, state police chief, said crashes in work zones can be life-altering events for both the victim and the driver.
In 2021, there were 12 crashes and 12 fatalities in Colorado construction and maintenance work zones, CDOT reports state. Nationally, 842 people died in work zones in 2019, and while construction workers are always at risk, 4 out of 5 work zone fatalities are motorists, not highway workers, CDOT reports.
CDOT officials say the department averages between 175 to 200 projects each year, not including routine maintenance projects.
Fines for infractions in work zones are doubled, and penalties are often increased, CDOT says.
Tips to be a safer driver this year include:
- Don’t change lanes unnecessarily
- Avoid using mobile phones
- Look at your route ahead of time to anticipate delays
- Anticipate lane shits and merge when directed to do so
- Be patient
- Watch for workers
- Drive with caution
- Stay alert
- Expect the unexpected
- Do not speed in work zones
- Obey posted signs
- Turn on headlights so workers and drivers can see you better
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