National ‘Work Zone Awareness Week’ begins

By Portia Williams -

GRAYSON, Ky. — Kentucky Department of Highways (KYDH) kicked off National “Work Zone Awareness Week” on Monday at the State Welcome Center in Grayson, Ky.

The week’s purpose is an appeal for motorists to slow down, reduce distractions to maintain safety for motorists and work zone workers.

Allen Blair, information officer Kentucky Transportation Cabinet/Department of Highways District 9, said they are proactive about spreading the message and importantance of National Work Zone Awareness Week.

“This week is National Work Zone Awareness Week, and we’re trying to spread the word to drive safely anywhere you see orange barrels or cones. Nationwide, and in Kentucky, work zone crashes, injuries and fatalities are on the rise,” Blair said. “We’re asking motorists to slow down, reduce distractions and give work zones their full attention to protect our workers and contractors as well as themselves.”

A Kentucky Fallen Workers Memorial plaque was unveiled Monday.

“Yesterday, we unveiled a Kentucky Fallen Workers Memorial plaque that will be posted at the Kentucky welcome center on I-64 near Grayson. Our Carter County crew members held a moment of silence led by Dwayne Laney. The memorial lists the names of the 93 employees of the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet who were killed on the job in the last 50 years,” Blair said. “We also heard from the sister of a contract workers killed in a work zone, who urged everyone to remember that the people working on our highways have families and loved ones they want to return home to each night. The best way to prevent work zone crashes is to slow down speed is the number one crash factor – to not drive distracted and to obey all work zone signs and flaggers.”

KYDH District 9 Chief Engineer Bart Bryant, said the summer work season be accompanied by a continual awareness of the workers whose lives are in danger.

“Each spring, as we look ahead to the busy summer construction season, our thoughts turn to many things, the contracts we award, paving schedules, our crews’ maintenance needs, the thousands of orange barrels that will mark our work zones and, most importantly, the many workers across Kentucky who are behind those barrels,” Bryant said. These workers are fathers and mothers, sons and daughters, grandparents and spouses. Many are church leaders, firefighters, coaches, and those who play important roles in our communities. And, they are in danger.”

Over the past 50 years, Kentucky has lost 93 of its transportation employees in work-related incidents. Two of them in the last year, according to KYDH.

“Think about that. That’s 93 crew members who devoted their days to provide the safe and well-maintained highways that we rely on each and every day,” Bryant said.”That’s 93 people who did not, and will not, return home to their families … to their communities … at the end of the work day. And, it’s not just our crew members. Our contractors here have felt the pain of losing an employee, a family member, to a work zone crash. Motorists, too, are at risk.”

In the last year in Kentucky, 194 people were hurt and seven were killed most of them drivers. in 819 work zone crashes. Additionally, overall, highway fatalities are up 13 percent.

“That’s why we’re here today, the beginning of National Work Zone Awareness Week, to call attention to these alarming statistics, to call attention to those transportation employees we’ve lost,those within our cabinet, and those within the ranks of our contractors,” Bryant said. “These workers you see on our roadways they’re not just construction workers. They have families. They have friends. They are fellow Kentuckians.”

Safety is secured if every does their part, by abstaining from distractions, and maintaing proper speed limits.

“We all want to get home safely each night, so, let’s do our part in protecting our own. Please slow down. Speed is one of the most common factors in all work zone accidents,” Bryant said. “Eliminate distractions – that means putting down the phone, or food, turning off the radio doing what it takes to focus on the road ahead in work zones. And drive safely. Our lives, and yours, depend on it, this year, and every year.”

By Portia Williams

Reach Portia Williams at 740-353-3101, ext. 1929, or on Twitter @PortiaWillPDT.

Reach Portia Williams at 740-353-3101, ext. 1929, or on Twitter @PortiaWillPDT.