Gov. John Carney and Department of Transportation Secretary Jennifer Cohan and others informed attendees on the importance of observing extra caution while traveling through work zones, during a public event held this morning at the Northeast Front Street work zone in Milford in observance of National Work Zone Awareness Week.

National Work Zone Awareness Week is held in early April each year at the traditional start of construction season when the number of workers on our nation’s roadways increases. The theme of this year’s Delaware awareness campaign is “Slow Down! We Have Families Too.”

The National Work Zone Awareness Week began in 1999 when the Federal Highway Administration, the American Traffic Safety Services Association and the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials signed a Memorandum of Agreement pledging to increase public awareness of work zone safety issues through a national media campaign. Since then, awareness has continued to grow, with state agencies and other organizations sponsoring high-visibility education and outreach initiatives.

Proclaiming the week of April 8 in Delaware to be National Work Zone Safety Awareness Week, Carney encouraged all citizens to be aware of the importance of safe driving habits in highway work zones.

“While we draw attention to the importance of Work Zone Safety Awareness during this week each April, it is something we should be mindful of every day of the year, especially with the many infrastructure projects taking place across our state,” said Carney.

“Since 2014, more than 1,100 drivers have crashed within work zones in Delaware. Such crashes endanger the lives of DelDOT employees and contractors as well as the lives of the people behind the wheel,” said Cohan. “We should all encourage drivers to slow down and pay attention to their surroundings as they approach and pass through work zones. Eliminating work zone crashes is a goal that we can achieve.”

Although highway workers are often among the victims of such crashes, it's important for drivers to understand that four out of five victims of work zone crashes are drivers or their passengers. Generally, crashes occur when drivers speed through a work zone or do not pay attention to the changing road conditions and run into other vehicles, highway equipment or safety barriers or drive off the roadway. In a typical five-day work week, an average of seven motorists and one worker are killed nationwide. The primary causes of work zone crashes are following too closely and inattentive driving.

Tips for improving work zone safety:

— When “orange and black” is visible, be extra cautious.

— Warning signs will let indicate what to expect.

— Barrels or cones will delineate path of travel.

— Flag persons will help direct the way.

— Avoid distractions.

— Don’t tailgate.

— Don’t change lanes.

— Slow down and expect the unexpected.

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