WEST GARDINER — National Work Zone Awareness Week (NWZAW) is being observed from Monday, April 11 through Friday, April 15. This year's theme is "Work Zones are a Sign to Slow Down."
NWZAW has been observed for more than 20 years and was launched as a public awareness campaign to help everyone understand how each of us plays a role in keeping motorists and roadway workers safe, according to Maine Department of Transportation, in a news release. Nationwide, there were 762 fatal crashes in work zones resulting in 842 deaths in 2019, according to statistics from the National Work Zone Safety Information Clearinghouse. Additionally, 135 roadway workers were killed in work zones. Most of the people killed in work zones were motorists, passengers, and pedestrians. Every year, Maine averages more than 500 crashes and two fatalities in work zones.
Monday, April 10, 2022, the Maine Department of Transportation, Maine Turnpike Authority, Maine State Police, and Associated General Contractors of Maine joined together in West Gardiner to highlight the importance of driving safely in work zones.
"Speeding and distracted driving are a deadly combination," said Peter Merfeld, Chief Operations Office for the Maine Turnpike Authority. "We have a monument in our Portland office dedicated to the four employees who have lost their lives on the job. The latest name was from a 2017 accident that happened in a work zone. We never want to add another name to that list. That's why we are asking the public to obey posted speed limits, eliminate distractions while driving, keep two hands on the wheel, and be watchful for roadway workers and their equipment."
"I'm a traffic engineer, but I'm also a mom to two young girls," said Brooke Glidden, Assistant Transportation Engineer at MaineDOT. "I have worked in both highway and bridge construction zones. This work is dangerous. Our MaineDOT team members and contracting partners want to make sure we can go home safely at night to greet our spouses and our children and be there for them for years to come."
"All our law enforcement officers, construction workers, and highway maintenance workers on our highways have families who care about them and pray every day that they make it home safely," said Sgt. Dan Hanson of the Maine State Police. "Please slow down and show you care about your own safety and ours."
"While it's easy to focus on statistics, this is really about people," said Matt Marks, CEO of Associated General Contractors of Maine. "Hardworking Mainers are putting their lives at risk to make improvements for the traveling public. As the traffic counts increase during the summer, we are pleading with visitors and Mainers to put down their phones, obey work zone speeds, and stay alert. Let's make sure we get to work and back home safely."
As part of the campaign, on Wednesday, April 13, individuals are encouraged to wear orange to support everyone who works in work zones throughout Maine.