this WSDOT photo shows part of its 2008 Work Zone Memorial display

WSDOT Turns Orange for Work Zone Memorial Today

The Washington State Department of Transportation's headquarters in Olympia will be the site of the agency's 2009 Work Zone Memorial ceremony today honoring WSDOT workers who have died in work zones and the more than 5,000 WSDOT workers and thousands of contractor crews who build and repair Washington's roads. WSDOT has turned www.wsdot.wa.gov orange for the week, covered part of its headquarters in orange, and encourages employees to wear safety orange today.

Since 1950, 56 WSDOT employees have died in work zone incidents.

"Speed continues to be the leading cause of work zone collisions. So we are asking drivers to slow down and pay attention when driving through work zones," WSDOT Secretary Paula Hammond said. "The men and women who work on our state and local highways are often working in and near traffic, and we want everyone to go home to their loved ones at the end of their work day."

The ceremony takes place every year. The most recent WSDOT employee fatality in a work zone was in 2002, but four contractor employees were killed in zones in the past two years. In addition, 54 motorists or passengers died and nearly 6,000 were hurt in zones across the state in the past five years, according to the agency, which says more than 10,500 work zone collisions were reported statewide from 2000 to 2008.

The agency's "Give 'em a Brake" Campaign focuses attention on the continuing importance of work zone safety. The campaign includes use of WSDOT's newest work zone safety device, the Automated Traffic Safety Camera. WSDOT said it will launch the second activation of the camera on May 4 at an I-5 work zone south of Olympia after using it successfully last fall in Lewis County zone. The camera is mounted in a small SUV parked in an active work zone. An operator checks the equipment, then the speed radar and camera record the rear license plate of vehicles speeding through the work zone. In the Lewis County zone, more than 90 percent of drivers were traveling below 70 mph during the five-week camera activation in September-October 2008, according to the agency.

WSDOT offers these tips for driving in a work zone:

  • Observe the speed limit and don't do anything except drive while you're in the work zone.
  • Don't eat or drink.
  • Don't change CDs or radio stations.
  • Don't tailgate! Leave plenty of room between you and the vehicle in front of you.

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