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For Immediate Release:

MARYLAND PARTNERS IN NATIONAL LAUNCH OF
WORK ZONE AWARENESS WEEK IN WASHINGTON, D.C.

As Construction Season Resumes, Maryland Commemorates April as Work Zone Safety Month

April 16, 2013

Baltimore, MD - In coordination with National Work Zone Awareness Week partners across the country, Maryland is observing April as Work Zone Safety Awareness Month.  The national theme “We’re All in This Together” underscores the important role that drivers play in work zones.  Today, Maryland work zone safety advocate Mrs. Laurie Moser joined Federal Highway Administrator Victor Mendez, Congressman John J. Duncan, Jr. and other officials at the national press conference in Washington, D.C. and issued a plea to drivers to do their part to keep themselves and highway workers safe.  Mrs. Moser knows all too well the dangers of work zones – in 2008 an errant driver struck and killed her husband, Rick Moser, a 21-year veteran of the Maryland State Highway Administration (SHA). 

“As roadway construction increases in warmer weather, so should our awareness of those brave highway workers whose ‘offices’ are literally along Maryland roadways,” said Governor Martin O’Malley.  “We’re asking all drivers to slow down, be patient and remain alert at all times – especially when traveling through work zones.  By doing so we can save lives.”

The annual event is organized by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), American Traffic Safety Service Association (ATSSA), and the American Association of State Highway Transportation Officials (AASHTO).  Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C. also sponsor the event which draws attention to the work zone dangers faced daily by construction crews and drivers alike.

Over the past 10 years in Maryland, work zone crashes averaged 2,237 each year, injuring an average of more than 1,250 and killing 11 people. Nationally, more than 700 people are killed each year in work zone crashes – the majority of them drivers or passengers traveling the roadways.

Unfortunately, 2013 opened with the death of two Pessoa Construction Company workers in a work zone crash in Cecil County.  “The dangers of work zones are clear. After losing two of my workers, Victor Jackson and Luis Tadeo, in January in a work zone crash along US 40, I assure you there are names, faces and families behind the statistics,” said Pessoa Construction Company President Julio Pessoa.  “I beg that all drivers hear the work zone safety message and slow down and remain at full alert when seeing orange.”

As part of Maryland’s effort to reduce work zone crashes this year, law enforcement will continue to use the SafeZones automated speed camera program to fine drivers exceeding the speed limit by 12 or more miles per hour in work zones.  The technology raises driver awareness and plays an important role in positively influencing driving behavior in construction zones. 

Since law enforcement began using speed cameras in highway construction areas, related crashes, fatalities and injuries reached a more than 10-year low: fatalities in work-zone crashes decreased by more than half from nine in 2009 to three in 2011. In the same timeframe, the number of people injured decreased from 827 to 688 and overall work zone crashes decreased from 1,685 to 1,486. Speeding violations in SafeZones construction sites have decreased by approximately 80 percent. When the program began, approximately seven out of every 100 drivers in the SafeZones construction areas were exceeding the speed limit by 12 mph or more; today, fewer than two drivers out of every 100 are exceeding that limit.

Hundreds of state employees, contractors and sub-contractors will be in work zones this season, delivering projects ranging from paving, bridge rehabilitation and regular maintenance as well as major roadway projects such as the Intercounty Connector.  While SHA and its transportation partners work hard to maintain safe traffic mobility in work zones, each driver needs to actively modify his or her driving style to help prevent crashes.

Social media, web banners, radio public service announcements, an e-brochure “Road Ready” and other education efforts will remind Maryland motorists of the work zone safety message.  Another tool Maryland driver have available this year is 511 – Know before you go!  Call 511 or log onto www.md511.org for live traffic updates, including roadway construction delays and lane closures.

For more information on Work Zone Safety Awareness, visit to SHA’s website at www.roads.maryland.gov and click on the work zone safety banner.

Contact:  Valerie Burnette Edgar, 410-545-0303

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