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Transportation officials mark National Work Zone Awareness Week

As spring becomes summer, drivers in North Carolina are likely to see an increase in the number of crews working to build or repair roadways. Just in time for the ongoing change in seasons, federal transportation officials have noted that this week is officially National Work Zone Awareness Week. What began as one state's effort to curb road construction worker accidents has spread to North Carolina and the rest of the nation.

The nation-wide effort to increase roadside safety for road crews is now well within its second decade. Between 2002 and 2008, the total number of fatalities among road workers has decreased by an encouraging 39 percent nationally. Highway officials indicate that the work zone awareness efforts have contributed to cutting back the number that have fallen victim to drivers carelessly passing through work sites.

Included among the planned events for this week is a national kickoff ceremony, featuring speakers connected to the efforts to improve work zone safety. This year's theme is "Don't Barrel Through Work Zones," and will continue the tireless efforts to urge drivers to exercise caution and care in road construction zones. Although the campaign has been successful in the past, organizers know there is still progress to be made.

As North Carolina drivers take to the road, it may be easy to forget the risk road workers put themselves in each and every day they are on the job. Without their contributions, we would not be able to get to work and products we buy wouldn't make it to stores. The least drivers can do is take note of work sites and drive accordingly. The potential tragedy is not worth the few moments saved by traveling too fast or recklessly.

Even though North Carolina and federal officials are taking steps to increase the safety of road construction zones, the unfortunate reality is that accidents will continue to happen. Knowing this, construction site managers should take all the necessary steps to keep workers safe. In the event that someone is injured on the job due to the negligence of a motorist, then worker's compensation benefits may be in line.

Source: U.S. Department of Transportation, "National Work Zone Awareness Week"

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