Covering Louisiana

Apr 15, 2013 4:55 PM

DOTD holds press conference for Work Zone Awareness Week in Lafayette

Nationally recognized and locally declared by Governor Jindal, Louisiana will distinguish April 15-19 as Work Zone Awareness Week. The theme is "Roadway Work Zone Safety: We're All in This Together." Along with this year's theme, DOTD has joined forces with its federal, state and local safety stakeholders to promote highway safety with a number of events and activities, including an interactive Facebook campaign.

According to Secretary Sherri H. LeBas, P.E, representative of the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development, "Safety is everyone's responsibility, and the recent passing of one of our Motorist Assistance Patrol (MAP) employees while on duty calls attention to the seriousness of this issue. It is imperative that we take responsibility behind the wheel by slowing down and not driving distracted." On March 25, 2013, MAP Driver Jim Gilmer lost his life when he was struck by a vehicle while responding to a dispatch to remove debris from the Mississippi River Bridge in Baton Rouge, La. DOTD will dedicate this year's work zone awareness activities in honor of Mr. Gilmer and his service to the department.

In line with Work Zone Awareness week, today's press conference was held this morning at the Begnaud House in Scott, La., which included a backdrop of the Scott roundabout work zone. This $2.3 million project will construct a roundabout at the intersection of La. 93 and La. 3168.The Scott roundabout will improve safety to the more than 11,000 cars that travel along the corridor daily because of the slower speeds and the elimination of more severe crashes. Operation is also improved by smooth-flowing traffic with less stop-and-go than a signalized intersection.

A 13-cone memorial was displayed at today's event to represent the lives lost in Louisiana work zones in 2011, with seven of those in the greater Lafayette area. A total of 590 work zone related deaths have occurred nationwide.

Although Louisiana has seen a dramatic 32% reduction in the number of traffic fatalities through the Destination Zero Deaths initiative, the department believes one fatality is too many. According to the most recent information released, there have been 302 motor-vehicle fatalities in Louisiana's work zones since 1989, and most recently, 13 deaths and 1,002 injuries in Louisiana in 2011. The data gathered is the most recent year for which figures were available from the federal Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS).

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