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For Immediate Release: 4/12/2016

Contact: Emma Lasch | emma.lasch@thruway.ny.gov
Office of Media Relations and Communications | (518) 471-5300

THRUWAY AUTHORITY, STATE DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION AND STATE POLICE ANNOUNCE 2016 NATIONAL WORK ZONE AWARENESS WEEK

Motorists Must Be Cautious and Alert in Work Zones

Safety Awareness Coincides with Start of Construction Season

The New York State Thruway Authority, the New York State Department of Transportation and the New York State Police today kicked off the 17th annual National Work Zone Awareness Week. This initiative seeks to remind motorists to use extreme caution when driving through work zones to ensure the safety of both motorists and construction workers on highways across the state.

The National Work Zone Awareness Week campaign coincides with the beginning of highway construction season and aims to prevent work zone fatalities by encouraging safe driving through work zones and construction sites. Work zones often have reduced speed limits, closed or shifted traffic lanes and people working on or near the road, making it that much more important for motorists to be aware of their surroundings.

Many factors contribute to work zone accidents; including speeding, cell phone usage, inattentive driving and aggressive driving. All of these behaviors are discouraged when driving on any road, but can be especially dangerous in work zones. This year’s theme, “Don’t Be That Driver,” emphasizes that motorists must remain alert and be prepared for dynamic changes while driving in and around work zones. The most common type of accidents in work zones are rear-end collisions, therefore it is crucial that drivers maintain an adequate following distance on the roadway.

The New York State Thruway Authority reported 331 work zone-related accidents and zero work zone fatalities on the Thruway in 2015.

New York State Thruway Authority Interim Executive Director and Chief Operating Officer Maria Lehman, P.E. said, “Highway construction season is picking up around the state, and this week is an opportunity to remind motorists to drive safely at all times—but especially in work zones. The men and women working in construction zones are fathers and mothers; sons and daughters; brothers and sisters, and they should be able to go home safely every day. I implore drivers to slow down and abide by the posted speed limit as they pass through work zones.”

In 2015, NYSDOT reported 646 crashes in capital construction work zones on New York State roads and bridges, resulting in six motorist fatalities and 147 injuries to motorists, contractor employees and NYSDOT staff. There were 12 injuries in 77 work zone crashes that occurred in maintenance zones.

New York State Department of Transportation Commissioner Matthew J. Driscoll said, “Highway and bridge construction zones are the work locations for thousands of New Yorkers and each day, and after laboring to keep roads safe for motorists, they simply want to be able to go home to their families; alive and uninjured. As a motorist, you can make that happen by being patient, slowing down and getting rid of all distractions when driving through work zones.”

In New York State, fines are doubled for speeding in a work zone. In accordance with the Work Zone Safety Act of 2005, convictions of two or more speeding violations in a work zone could result in the suspension of an individual’s driver’s license.

New York State Police Superintendent Joseph A. D’Amico said, “The New York State Police will be out in force and highly visible this construction season, keeping our roadways safe for both travelers and workers. Drivers need to do their part as well. Please obey posted speed limits and be on the lookout for workers and equipment in work zones. State Troopers will be strictly enforcing the rules of the road and violators will be ticketed.”

President & CEO of the Associated General Contractors of New York State Mike Elmendorf said, "Every day there are hundreds of active construction projects across the state. Some have complex tasks and significant work zone controls. The Associated General Contractors and our member firms in New York consider the safety of the traveling public and the construction workers as their first level of care. Everyone deserves to arrive at work safely and return home to their families at the end of the day. We urge the traveling public to eliminate any distractions and focus their attention on the road and the work zone controls. Everyone’s lives depend upon it."
In 2012, Governor Cuomo announced the 'Drivers First' initiative to prioritize the convenience of motorists and ensure that disruptions are as minimal as possible to drivers at highway and bridge work zones across the state. While some delays are unavoidable, the initiative has helped to minimize traffic congestion and travel delays due to road and bridge work.

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