Anyone who drives a car has probably been in this situation—you are already late for something and suddenly you find yourself in a construction zone. It is easy to get frustrated when traffic is crawling along, and many drivers disregard the slower speed limits that are posted for the stretch of road where the work is being done.
Unfortunately, that impatience can easily cause an accident. Those most at risk in those instances are the construction workers who are simply trying to do the job they were hired to do—not make our lives more difficult. The fact is, a total of 57 Oklahoma Department of Transportation employees have been killed in the line of duty, and that is more than any other state agency.
In 2012, 16 people were killed and 838 were injured in 1,431 collisions in Oklahoma work zones, the greatest number of injuries and the third highest number of collisions in the last decade. Since 2003, there has been a 77 percent increase in fatalities and a 149 percent increase in the number of accidents in work zones. Many of these fatalities and injuries were the result of inattentive driving, following too closely and speeding in construction zones.
Here in Oklahoma and throughout the nation, the week of April 15 has been declared Work Zone Awareness Week. Events will be held across the country aimed at educating drivers about work zone safety and remembering the motorists and workers who have lost their lives in work zone collisions.
This year’s motto is “Roadway Work Zone Safety: We’re All in This Together.” Safety tips for work zones include turning on headlights so workers and motorists can see you. Drivers should avoid tailgaiting or speeding, which can lead to accidents. They’re also asked to set aside distractions like cell phones or changing radio stations while driving in a work zone. Drivers are also advised to keep up with the traffic flow and avoid changing lanes while in a work zone.
Again, please remember that those road workers are simply doing a job to make Oklahoma roads better and safer for all of us. They have friends and family who would be devastated if someone’s carelessness or impatience caused their injury or death---something 57 Oklahoma families already know all too well.
As always, if you have a question about a legislative matter, please do not hesitate to contact my office at (405) 521-5541 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. It is an honor to serve as your voice at the State Capitol. If I may be of help, please contact me. May God Bless you!