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American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

American Government


Federal Highway Administration
April 3, 2000

Monday, April 3, 2000
Contacts: FHWA, TaMara McCrae (202) 366-0660
ATSSA, James Baron, (800) 272-8772, ext. 113
AASHTO, Thomas Schulz, (202)624-5838
FHWA 21-00

With the goal of saving lives during what may be the busiest season of road construction in the nation’s history, a public-private partnership of roadway safety and construction groups are sponsoring National Work Zone Safety Awareness Week April 3-7.

"Safety is President Clinton and Vice President Gore’s highest transportation priority, and this campaign alerts motorists about the need for careful, attentive driving in work zones," U.S. Transportation Secretary Rodney E. Slater said. "We can improve safety for both travelers and construction workers by exercising caution in work zones."

The purpose of the work zone safety awareness week is to urge motorists and work zone workers to take basic steps to help save lives and prevent injuries in work zones. Motorists can foster safety in roadway work zones, for example, by not using cellular phones and slowing to posted speed limits within the work zone, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration (FHWA).

FHWA, the American Traffic Safety Services Association (ATSSA), the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) along with numerous roadway safety and construction groups held a kick-off event today at the Springfield, Va., "Mixing Bowl" interchange on the outskirts of Washington, D.C.

"There will be more work zones on our highways this summer than ever before," said Kenneth R. Wykle, FHWA administrator. "By taking care and showing patience, we can save lives and reduce crashes. When work is completed, all of us will benefit from better roads and fewer delays."

In the past decade more than 8,000 fatalities were reported in work zones. Fatalities in 1998 rose to 772, reversing a three-year decline in work zones fatalities in 1995-1997. Approximately 38,000 people were injured in work zones in 1998, the last year for which figures are available.

"Too many lives are lost each year simply because people are not slowing down or are not paying attention when they enter a work zone. Work zones are a fact of life, and they are here to stay for years to come as roadways are improved and made safer," said Roger Wentz, Executive Director of ATSSA.

Orange signs on along roadways indicate work zones. On average, motorists can expect to encounter a work zone every 50 miles they travel, more in metropolitan areas.

During National Work Zone Safety Awareness Week, motorists will be asked to take the following actions when entering work zones:

  • Stay alert and give full attention to the roadway.
  • Pay close attention to signs and work zone flaggers.
  • Turn on headlights so workers and motorists can see vehicles.
  • Do not tailgate.
  • Do not speed. Slow down to posted limits.
  • Keep up with the traffic flow through work zones.
  • Do not change lanes in work zones.
  • Minimize distractions in vehicles. Avoid changing radio stations and using mobile phones.
  • Expect the unexpected. Keep an eye on workers and their equipment.
  • Be patient. Remember work zones are necessary to improve roads and make them safer.

    "The safety of the driving public and workers in highway work zones is of paramount importance to state departments of transportation. We applaud the many private and public sector partners involved in promoting this event, and we join them in encouraging the driving public and work zone workers to ‘Stay Alert!,’" said Thomas R. Warne, AASHTO president.


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