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All motorists play a role in work zone safety
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All motorists play a role in work zone safety

AFTON—Though April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month, Virginia’s transportation workers rely on driver attentiveness year-round.

The 2023 National Work Zone Awareness Week “Work with Us” campaign emphasizes that everyone shares the responsibility for safe work zones. Virginia Department of Transportation construction and maintenance crews, contractors and motorists all have a role in ensuring that everyone makes it safely home.

Unlike normal road conditions, work zones involve large equipment, traffic pattern changes, lane closures, uneven pavement, variable speed limits and, of course, workers.

“That’s a volatile environment,” said David Tenembaum, DRIVE SMART VIRGINIA treasurer and senior actuarial manager at Virginia Farm Bureau Mutual Insurance Co. “In a work zone, drivers must obey all traffic safety laws including the speed limit, drive absolutely distraction-free, adhere to signage, and be on the lookout for highway workers.”

Virginia will observe the following during National Work Zone Awareness Week:

• April 17: National kick-off event
• April 19: Wear orange, and share your support of work zone safety by posting on social media accounts with #GoOrangeDayVA. A vigil will be held at the VDOT Workers’ Memorial.
• April 21: A statewide moment of silence at 10 a.m. remembering workers killed on the job.

Motorists traveling Interstate 64 have likely noticed the VDOT Workers’ Memorial at the scenic overlook east of Afton Mountain between mile markers 103 and 104. The memorial honors state highway transportation workers who died performing their jobs; it bears the names of 134 employees.

The American Traffic Safety Services Foundation offers a mobile National Work Zone Memorial honoring lives lost in work zones to help make fatalities “real” to policymakers and drivers. The memorial travels to communities each year to raise awareness of the need to respect roadway work zones and to stay safe in them. To host the memorial, visit foundation.atssa.com and click “Programs.”

Meanwhile, VDOT continues its 25-year tradition of spreading safety awareness to highway workers and the traveling public.

“Work zone safety requires a partnership between VDOT, its contractors and the traveling public,” said Cathy McGhee, VDOT chief deputy commissioner. “We urge drivers to slow down and be fully alert—in every work zone, all year long.”

Visit VirginiaDOT.org or NWZAW.org for more information on participating in the awareness week.

Media: Contact Rich Jacobs, DSV, at 804-929-6117; Marshall Herman, VDOT central office, at 804-652-9689; or Maria Robertson, ATSSA, at 540-368-1701.

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