OK, maybe not literally. More like virtually. Either way, there are a lot of awareness days, weeks and months.
This week, for instance, has been National Workzone Awareness Week. If you happen to see any of us around TxDOT, you'll find us wearing (probably) a little orange ribbon on our lapel. Because these causes all seem to use a colored ribbon, and because some even share the same color, you might ask us what the orange ribbon is all about.
Well, we're glad you asked.
Orange was picked by the Federal Highway Administration, American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials and American Traffic Safety Services Association because of the use of orange in road work zones. Those three got together back in the 1990s (was that really THAT long ago?) to raise awareness of the need to be more careful when driving through work zones.
After all, those work zones are our office - and our folks would love to get home at the end of each work day. They have families waiting for them, as most folks do. We hear it about police officers all the time, but for everyone who leaves home to go to work the number-one job is to return home every evening (or at the end of each shift).
So here are a few facts to consider:
- As many as 2,500 work zones can be active on Texas' 80,000 miles of highways at a given moment
- Work zone fines can double and reach as much as $2,000; also, work zone violations cannot be waived by pleading "no contest" and taking a drivers' safety course
- State-wide we saw a 13 percent increase in work-zone crashes over 2014
- Last year nearly 140 people were killed in work-zone crashes
- 81 percent of work zone fatalities are the motorists themselves; not workers
So much for state-wide stats. What about here, at home? Well, last year we had 2,492 work-zone collisions. 62 people were seriously hurt, and 11 lost their lives. Each of the 11 killed were motorists.
While we do everything we can to maintain the safety, ultimately everyone has a role to play in keeping our work zones safe. We're asking everyone to be rid of distraction - which means to put the dang phone away and just drive - and slow down a bit when headed into a work zone. The life you save, after all, just might be your own.