AASHTO Video: 2023 Work Zone Awareness Efforts

The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials recently released a video highlighting efforts made during the 2023 National Work Zone Awareness Week or NWZAW campaign to improve highway work zone safety.

[Above image by AASHTO]

The video also detailed efforts by state transportation departments around the country to use new tools and initiatives, like Maryland’s newly-formed work zone safety workgroup, to improve work zone safety through policy, enforcement, and technology.

Federal and state officials expressed concerns about the alarming increase in work zone crashes and fatalities during 2023 NWZAW events, urging motorists to slow down, pay attention, and follow work zone laws to protect worker lives.

At a national kickoff event for the week-long campaign in April hosted by the Missouri Department of Transportation in the shade of the I-70 Westbound Missouri River Bridge project, Gloria Shepherd – executive director of the Federal Highway Administration – stressed that her agency “intends to use every program and funding option at our disposal to make where infrastructure repairs, maintenance, and construction are underway safer for workers and motorists alike.”

“The safety of highway workers and others on roads, bridges and highways across the country is FHWA’s number one priority,” she said in a statement at the time.

Patrick McKenna. Photo by MoDOT.

“Work zone safety is personal for us,” added MoDOT Director Patrick McKenna at the event. “It is about getting home safely to your family, to your friends, after every single shift every single time during your [transportation] career. There are lives on the line every day, in every state, in any given work zone people are dying. The decisions you make in work zones could be the difference between life and death, for our workers, yourself, and everyone you share the road with.”

The Maryland Department of Transportation – like many states – hosted a state-level work zone safety kickoff event during the one-week campaign, featuring Governor Wes Moore (D), Lieutenant Governor Aruna Miller, and Maryland DOT Secretary Paul Wiedefeld.

“As we build an efficient and equitable transportation network … we must prioritize safety over speed” Gov. Moore said in a statement. “That is why I’m announcing the formation of a highway work zone safety work group to develop tangible solutions to protect workers, drivers and passengers.”

Lt. Gov. Miller – a transportation engineer with 20-plus years of experience – will lead the Maryland work zone safety task force.

“I’ve seen firsthand the safety challenges associated with highway work zones,” she said. “The safety of all highway users, as well as those who improve and maintain our highway network, is paramount.”

Craig Thompson at podium. Photo by the Wisconsin DOT.

Craig Thompson – secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Transportation and the vice president of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials – expressed similar sentiments during a kickoff event in his state back in April.

“Work zones are temporary, but our decisions behind the wheel can make an impact forever,” Thompson noted in a statement.

“The people working behind the barrels rely on us to drive safely,” he said. “Glancing at a text or social media alert while driving is not worth it. Let’s work together to avoid distractions and stay focused on the road ahead. Safe drivers create safe work zones.”​

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