The Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) announced a year-long campaign to inform Florida motorists of the dangers of reckless driving through highway work zones at a Capitol press conference this month.
FDOT, the Florida Highway Patrol (FHP), the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), the American Traffic Safety Services Association (ATSSA), the Florida Sheriff’s Association (FSA), the Florida Police Chiefs Association (FPCA) and several other state and national transportation organizations are partners in the campaign.
The campaign, “Work Zone Safety. It’s Everyone’s Job.” seeks to reduce crashes, injuries and fatalities in highway work zones.
“For their own safety and the safety of construction workers, motorists need to drive carefully through work zones,” said FDOT Assistant Secretary Kevin Thibault, the Governor’s Highway Safety Representative. “It’s everyone’s job to play an active role in raising driver awareness when entering work zones to increase safety for workers, motorists and pedestrians.”
In 2003, the most recent traffic crash data for Florida, 104 fatalities and 3,607 injuries occurred in 3,509 crashes in highway work zones. Although highway construction remains one of the most dangerous jobs in America, nine out of ten persons killed in highway work zones in Florida are motorists or pedestrians.
During the campaign, FDOT and its partners will enhance public awareness about work zone safety, introduce innovative safety precautions that motorists can expect when approaching highway construction and increase law enforcement presence in work zones.
Specifically, FHP will continue “Operation Hardhat,” a traffic safety program that features troopers disguised as construction workers to catch unsuspecting speeders.
“Florida Highway Patrol will be cooperating with FDOT implementing enforcement details in work zones,” said FHP Director Colonel Chris Knight. “Through this partnership, working and driving in Florida’s work zones will be safer than ever before.”
FDOT is urging motorists to drive safely in highway work zones by following these safety tips:
• Stay alert. Expect anything to occur when entering a work zone.
• Pay close attention. Signs and work zone flaggers save lives.
• Turn on your headlights. Workers and other motorists must see you.
• Don’t tailgate. Unexpected stops frequently occur in work zones.
• Don’t speed. Note the posted speed limits in and around the work zone.
• Keep up with the traffic flow. Dedicate your full attention to the roadway and those traveling around you.
• Don’t change lanes in the work zone. The time saved just isn’t worth the chance.
• Minimize distractions. Avoid changing radio stations and using cellular phones while driving in the work zone.
• Expect the unexpected. Keep an eye out for workers and their equipment.
• Be patient. Remember, work zone crews are working to improve your future ride.