Driving through a highway construction zone is dangerous.
It’s a simple point, and I’m struggling to find a way to make it resonate. I feel like departments of transportation across the country are sharing my frustration as they roll out different events to draw attention to National Work Zone Awareness Week.
The Wisconsin Department of Transportation created a simple but — in my humble opinion — potent image. The department, near the reconstruction of Highway 41 in Oshkosh, lined the freeway with 69 construction cones and barrels with bands of black tape across each. They represent the 69 people — four of them construction workers — who have died in work zone incidents during the past five years.
Other departments of transportation this week are setting up their own reminders. The Georgia and North Carolina DOTs are taking the hard-line approach of increasing police patrols and speed traps near construction sites this week. Oregon, Washington and Missouri have a “Go Orange” campaign to encourage people to wear orange and photograph themselves to support safety.
There’s even a commemorative song, “Flagger Up,” written by Brenda Croft, a flagger from Kentucky, and performed by Tabatha and Southern Fryd.
These are all well-meaning efforts to change the sad truth that drivers, myself included, take the dangers of the highway for granted. The more often we cruise through a construction site without anything bad happening, the easier it is to become careless while doing it.
I know words are only worth 1/1,000th of a picture (which is why we included a photo with this blog), but I’ll write them again, with the hope that they’ll sink in:
Be careful. Driving through a highway construction zone is dangerous.
Sean Ryan, staff writer for The Daily Reporter, has been in only one construction accident, and there were no injuries (except to his pride).