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Safe driving urged during National Work Zone Awareness Week

There are perhaps no more dangerous occupations within the construction industry than those associated with road construction. On a daily basis, these men and women have to not only worry about traditional worksite hazards (falling objects, dangerous machinery, deep trenches, etc.), but also the traffic zooming by them.

Making matters worse, many of these drivers are distracted, meaning their focus is not on the road ahead but rather on everything from their phones and their dashboard navigation systems to their children and their breakfast.

If you don't believe how dangerous road construction work can be, consider some of the following statistics:

  • Illinois sees an average of 4,800 work zone motor vehicle accidents every year.
  • There were over 1,000 injuries in work zone motor vehicle accidents in 2013.
  • There were 25 fatal work zone motor vehicle accidents resulting in 28 deaths in 2013, including one Illinois Department of Transportation worker.

In recognition of this elevated risk of serious and even fatal construction worker accidents, Governor Pat Quinn recently issued a proclamation declaring April Work Zone Safety Month in Illinois.

"Workers are busy this season making our roads better and safer, and I urge motorists keep them safe by slowing down and paying attention in work zones," said Governor Quinn. "We all benefit when our working men and women have a safe workplace, whether alongside the road, in a factory or in an office."

As part of the events associated with this monthlong initiative, IDOT, along with the Illinois Tollway and the Illinois State Police joined forces earlier this week to kick off National Work Zone Awareness Week.

All throughout this week, troopers have been out in full force in work zones across the state looking to catch and ticket those drivers who are either speeding or breaking the state's newly enacted ban on the use of handheld electronic communications devices behind the wheel.

According to IDOT, both speeding and distracted driving are behind an overwhelming majority of work zone crashes, as they leave motorists with far less time to react to everything from narrowed lanes and road closures to suddenly slowed traffic and equipment moving alongside the road.

Here's hoping that motorists throughout the state help keep IDOT workers safe by heeding this advice not just this week, but all through the year.

Source: Illinois Department of Transportation, "Transportation agencies, law enforcement and highway safety advocates to focus on safety at kick off of construction season," April 7, 2014

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