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Work Zone Awareness Week brings attention to safety

Governor Mike Pence has proclaimed April 7-11, 2014 as Work Zone Awareness Week in Indiana.

Work Zone Awareness Week marks the ceremonial start to highway construction season and intends to bring awareness to motorist and worker safety in work zones. The Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT) is dedicated to continuously improving work zone safety, and INDOT needs participation from everyone – especially motorists – to make highway work zones as safe as possible.

INDOT will invest nearly $800 million in highway construction projects this year to enhance safety, mobility and economic growth in Indiana. Highway work zones must balance maintaining access for motorists, residents, businesses and emergency services while also giving workers a safe environment to do their work. Thousands of vehicles drive through their work places at high speeds, and it is critical for everyone’s safety to drive safely.

This year’s national theme is “Work Zone Speeding: A Costly Mistake,” which highlights the consequences of dangerous driving in work zones. Motorists in Indiana face fines of up to $1,000 for speeding and up to $5,000 for driving recklessly through work zones. Drivers who injure or kill a highway worker could face a $10,000 fine and up to eight years behind bars. By highlighting these consequences, the intent is to inform drivers and encourage everyone to drive carefully through work zones.

These fines are used to fund additional Indiana State Police work zone patrols and promote public safety. INDOT and the Indiana State Police have partnered to include unmarked white pickup trucks in highway work zones patrols. The pickup trucks resemble typical vehicles normally seen near Indiana highway construction zones. Motorists are urged to always comply with speed limits in construction zones and improve safety for both the highway workers and the motoring public.

Some drivers think it is safe to ignore work zone speed limits if workers are not present. But, on average, four out of every five deaths in highway work zone crashes are drivers and their passengers, not highway workers. Last year, 13 motorists (no workers) were killed and more than 450 people were injured in Indiana highway work zone crashes. The majority of these injuries and deaths are caused by driver inattention, speeding, following too closely, making unsafe lane changes or failing to yield right-of-way.

Highway work zones leave no room for distractions and require attentive, cautious driving habits. Dedicate your full attention to the roadway and avoid all distractions, including cellphones, especially while driving through work zones.

April is also Distracted Driving Awareness Month. The Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles, Indiana Criminal Justice Institute, Indiana Department of Labor, Indiana State Police and INDOT have partnered to award $5,000 scholarships to high school and college students who compose the most creative and viral social media posts on Twitter, Instagram and Vine using #TXTL8RIN. The “Drive Now. Txt l8r” campaign runs through the month of April. Go to www.txtl8r.in.gov for contest rules and information.

Speeding or driving recklessly in a work zone is dangerous. Obey the posted speed limit at all times, and be patient. Remember, the work zone crews are working to improve the road and make your future drive better.

For more information on work zone safety, visit workzone   safety.in.gov. Motorists can learn about highway work zones at www.TrafficWise.IN.gov or by calling 1-800-261-ROAD (7623).