|For Immediate Release:
April 12, 2016
National Work Zone Awareness Week…
Obey the Rules in Work Zones:
Pay Attention. Slow Down. Watch for Workers.
TENNILLE –Today Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) officials, along with key state and federal safety partners, paid tribute to the 58 employees who died in work zone incidents since record-keeping began in 1973. Their primary message focused on the rules for driving in work zones – Pay Attention – Slow Down – Watch for Workers.
This year’s observance, appropriately held at Highway Emergency Response Operator (HERO) headquarters, was especially solemn. Just last month, HERO Moses King died from injuries sustained in August 2015 as he was setting out road flares on Atlanta’s Downtown Connector.
“And it’s not just HEROs who are in jeopardy. It’s also our maintenance and road construction crews out in front with only a cone or a barrel as a buffer,” said GDOT Commissioner Russell McMurry. “Every driver needs to be aware that when you see a GDOT worker or emergency medical personnel, law enforcement, firefighters, as well as tow truck drivers, they should slow down or move over one lane.”
East central Georgia District Safety Officer Larry Morris said work zone lane closures can quickly become dangerous when attempting to stop or slow down a distracted, high-speed driver. Work zone flaggers are there to protect everyone.
“A flagger has to be alert at all times and prepared to run to safety in a moment’s notice. I’ve stood out on the road with flaggers, and I can tell you it can be a scary place,” Morris said. “In the past year, we’ve had several GDOT vehicles rear ended in work zones. Even with all the strobe lights going people are distracted enough to not see our vehicles.”
While GDOT’s work zone awareness observance focused on the perils of work zones for workers, most victims in work zone crashes are in fact drivers or their passengers. In 2015, there were 27 work zone fatalities in Georgia – all members of the public. Nationally in 2014, based on the latest available data, 82 percent of work zone fatalities were drivers or their passengers.
Back in December 2015, a work zone setup on US 441 south of Dublin turned deadly after a GDOT flagger safely stopped three vehicles and attempted to stop a fourth. That driver never responded and hit the stopped vehicles. One citizen involved in the crash eventually passed away from the injuries.
GDOT offers a few important reminders:
- Work zones are not always stationary. Moving work zones that conduct maintenance activities like litter pickup, mowing, pavement marking and sweeping may move slowly and stop intermittently;
- Whenever you drive, GDOT asks that you always DriveAlert ArriveAlive. That means buckle up; stay off the phone and no texting; and drive alert;
- Get to know Georgia’s Move-Over Law. It says drivers must move-over one lane or slow down and be prepared to stop when approaching a stationary law enforcement, emergency vehicle or construction crew displaying flashing yellow, amber, white, red or blue emergency lights.
To view and share GDOT’s 30 second work zone safety video and for additional information, visit www.dot.ga.gov/DS/SafetyOperation/Workzone.
Safety is Georgia DOT’s top priority. Each year, at the start of the spring construction season, GDOT districts statewide and departments of transportation across the country, observe National Work Zone Awareness Week to bring attention to worker and motorist safety and mobility issues in work zones.
All work zones have rules. And this week – National Work Zone Awareness Week – Georgia DOT reminds motorists that following the rules for driving in work zones can make the difference between life and death. Obey the Rules: Pay Attention – Slow Down – Watch for Workers. For more information, visit www.dot.ga.gov/DS/SafetyOperation/Workzone.