Effort to drive down work zone deaths underway in Tampa Bay - WNCT

Effort to drive down work zone deaths underway in Tampa Bay

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An average of eight people lose their lives in work zone crashes each week in America. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention ranks Florida among the three most dangerous states. 

"FDOT's vision is to serve the people of Florida by delivering a transportation system that is fatality and congestion free," FDOT Secretary Ananth Prasad said in a press release.

To educate drivers about the dangers of work zones, the Florida Department of Transportation is recognizing April 15-19 as Work Zone Safety Awareness Week.  Transportation authorities say it's a good time to remind drivers it's their job to help protect road workers.

"All we want people to do is slow down, don't text on the road, especially in construction zones because we have workers out there that are behind barrier walls.  Sometimes they're not," said FDOT Spokeswoman Kristen Carson. 

The US Department of Transportation reports the majority of people who die or are injured in work zone crashes aren't road workers.  Four out of five victims are actually drivers or passengers.

"Lanes are shifting and there's a lot of changes that you're not used to," explained Carson.  "There's a lot of work going on out there and we need people to pay attention." 

In 2011, there were 65 fatalities in Florida work zones and more than 3,500 injuries.  Just five years earlier, there were 118 fatal crashes reported. 

"Our numbers are going down, so that's a positive fact," said Carson.  "Of course, there still not where we want them to be."

The FDOT offers these simple tips for improving safety: be alert, slow down, avoid distraction, don't tailgate, don't change lanes, and expect the unexpected.  

"It's important to comply with the speed limit wherever you drive. That means slowing down in posted work zones where you're likely to encounter uneven pavement, limited space and people working nearby," said Florida Highway Patrol Director, Col. David Brierton in as press release. "If a trooper catches you speeding or breaking another law in a work zone, expect not only a ticket, but enhanced penalties because you're in a work zone."  


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