INDIANAPOLIS – The Indiana Department of Transportation has launched its annual Work Zone Awareness campaign with the theme, “Work Zone Safety is in Your Hands.”
Gov. Eric Holcomb has proclaimed April 3-7 as Work Zone Awareness Week across Indiana. The weeklong campaign is intended to focus attention on both motorist and worker safety while traveling through highway construction zones.
INDOT will oversee more than 300 construction contracts, resurface 3,047 lane miles of pavement, work on 41 capital projects for traffic mobility and safety, improve dozens of interchanges and intersection, and reconstruct 486 bridges and structures.
Work Zone Awareness Week sign inside the office of Rick Ruble, commissioner of the department of labor office. Photo by Deonta Larkins, TheStatehouseFile.com
But construction zones can be dangerous, particularly if drivers speed or fail to pay attention to traffic and road hazards. On average, at least 12 people have been killed each year in INDOT work zone crashes since 2014. Eighty percent of those killed are motorists or their passengers.
“The workers are out there exposed, they’re working, but most of the people that are killed are drivers,” said Rick Ruble, commissioner of the Indiana Department of Labor.
Distracted driving is dangerous, claiming 3,477 Hoosier lives in 2015 alone. INDOT officials hope that by raising awareness about this behavior lives will be saved.
It is also expensive. Motorists face fines of up to $1,000 for speeding in a construction zone, up to $5,000 for driving recklessly, and up to $10,000 and/or a prison sentence of up to six years for injuring or killing a highway worker.
INDOT urges drivers to follow these safety tips in work zones:
- Stay alert and look for reduced speed limits; narrow driving lanes and highway workers.
- Pay attention, Work zone signs will tell drivers exactly what to expect ahead.
- Merge Early. If drivers merge as soon as they see signs, traffic will flow much more smoothly.
- Slow down and don’t speed There could be slowed or stopped vehicles in the construction zone.
- Maintain a safe distance on all sides of the vehicles.
- Minimize distractions. The three C’s – cell phones, CDs, and coffee – are the primary cause of driver inattention.
INDOT will use work signage, traffic alerts, social media, and project communication across the state to keep Hoosiers up to date on this year’s construction zones. Current work zones and real-time traffic conditions are also available on INDOT’s TrafficWise map.
Deonta Larkins is a reporter for TheStatehouseFile.com, a website powered by Franklin College journalism students.