Yearly campaign reminds drivers to be cautious in work zones

Published: Apr. 11, 2022 at 6:21 PM EDT
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WEST GARDINER, Maine (WABI) - Monday kicks off the start of National Work Zone Safety Week.

The yearly campaign is a reminder for drivers to use caution while driving through road construction areas.

Work zones are a sign to slow down. That’s the theme for this year’s National Work Zone Awareness Week.

“We’re asking people to obey the posted speed limit and keep both hands on the wheel and keep everyone safe,” said Peter Merfeld, Maine Turnpike Authority.

Maine transportation and law enforcement officials held a press conference at the Maine Turnpike Authority maintenance facility in West Gardiner.

They want to remind drivers it’s easy to be distracted by a phone or even a conversation, and it doesn’t take much to lose control of your vehicle.

“Typically, every year we get about a little over 100 crashes in work zones, which is a lot compared to the rest of the state,” said Merfeld.

Data from the Federal Highway Administration shows work zone fatalities increased by 1.4% from 2019 to 2020. This means more loved ones are not making it home.

“It’s very dangerous work, and the people that are out there just like you and me, they want to go home at the end of the day to see their family,” said Brooke Glidden, Maine DOT traffic engineer.

That’s why Glidden is urging people to pay attention while driving, especially in work zones. She says she could not imagine leaving her two young daughters without a mother.

“When you see the orange sign, the orange cones, the blinking amber lights, the people in their bright yellow vest on the side of the road, just move over if you can, drive slowly, pay attention, be courteous to them,” said Glidden.

Some work zones are active 24 hours a day, and paying attention can make a difference.

It could have saved the life of one of Maine’s workers who tragically lost their life in a work zone due to a distracted driver in 2017.

“We have a memorial at our office. We have four employees on that memorial, and our hope is that we never have to add another name,” said Merfeld.

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