SHA urges motorists to slow down when approaching work zones.
You're going to be seeing more of them as you travel around the state now that the weather is getting warmer. Crews will be setting up highway work zones so that repair work which couldn't be done during the winter can be completed, now that spring is here.
April is Highway Work Zone Awareness Month. "We have a saying around here that 'work zone safety is everyone's business.' I think as driver sometimes we tend to think that work zones are strictly the responsibility of the workers who are out there, setting the work zones up safely. But in fact, we all play a role in work zone safety," says Lora Rakowski, spokeswoman for the Maryland State Highway Administration.
SHA is one of many state and federal highway agencies that are participating in Work Zone Safety Awareness Month. The theme for 2013 is "We're all in this together."
Highway officials urge drivers to slow down when approaching and traveling through work zones, and follow all traffic directions. Rakowski says in most work zone safety crashes, it's the drivers and their passengers who are injured or killed. "There is very limited to no margin for error; the construction equipment that is out there; the jersey wall; no shoulders; dust; the pavement edges; variety of factors which make work zones challenging conditions for even the most experienced drivers," she says.
In 2008, Rick Moser from Middletown, a 21-year veteran of the SHA, was struck and killed by an errant driver. His wife, Laurie Moser, has been a strong advocate for work zone safety.
Rakowski says in recent years, deaths and injuries in work zone accidents have declined across Maryland to a ten-year low. "We have seen a decrease in work zone crashes by more than half between 2009 and 2011. Nine in 2009, and three in 2011," she says. Unfortunately, two contract workers for SHA were killed in a highway work zone crash in Cecil County in January, 2013.
On average, 700 people across the country die in work zone crashes annually, says Rakowski.
A lot of the drop in these types of crashes could be the "SafeZones" automated speed camera program which fines drivers exceeding the speed limit by 12-miles or more per hour in work zones. "Speeding violations have decreased by approximately 80%," Rakowski says. "We know that seven out of every 100 drivers who are passing through the speed limit when the program began. But now that's to down two drivers out of every 100 are exceeding the speed limit."
Anyone who wants to know where the work zones are located across Maryland can call 511, or go to www.511.org for live traffic updates, which includes speed zone locations.