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Deaths in work zones are preventable when drivers use caution

Louisiana residents may not be aware the governor declared April 23-27 Work Zone Awareness Week in concurrence with a national event promoting safety. During the week, the Department of Transportation and Development tried to raise awareness relating to safety matters to reduce fatal accidents in highway work zones.

Officials are trying to get drivers to slow down when they near workers doing work on roads and in construction sites in order to reduce fatalities. The DOTD's effort featured the widow of a worker who died in a fatal car accident 23 years ago while doing survey work on a highway.

DOTD's efforts have not been in vain. The numbers of fatalities have decreased over the years, from 993 in 2007 to 720 in 2010. However, as a Louisiana State Police superintendent said, even one death is too many because deaths can be avoided by careful and attentive driving.

As the superintendent pointed out, police can do everything from educating and enforcing the public but nothing is possible if motorists do not cooperate by driving slowly in work zones. The secretary of DOTD agrees, adding that cable barriers and cameras exist to increase worker safety, but drivers need to be aware of their surroundings and slow down.

The worker's widow urges people to slow down in work zones, even if others on the road are angered by the slow speed. A driver heeding her advice might be responsible for averting a fatal accident.

Louisiana drivers should take care to drive safely and focus on the conditions on the road to make sure they are not endangering both themselves and other people on the road -- drivers and workers alike.

Source: The Advertiser, "Raising awareness about DOTD safety," Kris Wartelle, April 24, 2012

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