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For Immediate Release: 04/19/2012
CONTACT: MassDOT Press Office
(617) 973-8472

Focus on Safety During Highway Work Zone Awareness Week, April 23-27

Massachusetts Deploys Additional State Police Officers at Work Zones

BOSTON -  Massachusetts Department of Transportation Secretary Richard A. Davey today joined Executive Office of Public Safety and Security (EOPSS) Secretary Mary Beth Heffernan and Massachusetts State Police Colonel Marian McGovern along with Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHSTA) and Construction Industries of Massachusetts (CIM) leaders in Devens to announce traffic enforcement steps during National Work Zone Awareness Week, April 23-27.

The Massachusetts State Police will station additional officers at up to 24 state highway work zones in all regions of the Commonwealth during the week.   

During the past two years, more than 70 crashes were reported at Massachusetts work sites involving a state trooper or police cruiser.  The state Work Zone Awareness program kicked off in November 2011 and has already resulted in more than 3,000 speeding citations at work zones, along with 400 drivers cited for not wearing seat belts and 75 cited for aggressive driving. 

“Dedicated workers are building and maintaining the roads and bridges we rely on every day to get us where we need to go safely,” said Federal Highway Administrator Victor Mendez. “The least we can do as drivers is to keep them safe by obeying posted speed limits. We must also pay extra attention in work zones, which means putting away our cell phones and watching out for any changes to normal road conditions.”

“As we enter into the prime highway construction season and do the important work of improving our roads and bridges, we remind drivers that with the construction comes with an important warning: please slow down through work zones,” said MassDOT Secretary Davey.

“Speeding and distracted driving through work zones is dangerous and has proven deadly for motorists, our law enforcement officers and public works employees,”  said Public Safety Secretary Mary Beth Heffernan.  “We ask all drivers  to use caution, be responsible and always mindful of their surroundings.”

The Work Zone Awareness state program is a combined effort of MassDOT, EOPSS, State Police, FHWA, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, and CIM.  Federal highway and traffic safety funds cover the $400,000 cost of the program.

“The professionals who do their work on and on the sides of highways are at a significant risk of injury from speeding distracted drivers,” said Massachusetts State Police Colonel Marian J. McGovern. “State Police Sgt. Douglas Weddleton was struck and killed in an incident involving two drunk drivers while he was protecting a road construction crew on Route 95 two years ago. Through this Work Zone Safety program troopers will be deployed at up to 24 construction sites to work as a team to identify and stop drivers who are speeding, impaired, or distracted in an effort  to keep our roads safe for everyone who travels and works on them.”

“The lives of construction workers, inspectors, police details and the motoring public are all at stake in the work zone. We enthusiastically welcome the stepped up traffic enforcement against speeding because traffic cones and barrels alone do not protect against a distracted, impaired or speeding driver. At the end of the day, we want to make sure that every worker goes home in one piece,” according to John Pourbaix, Executive Director, Construction Industries of Massachusetts (CIM).

Since 1999, the FHWA has promoted National Work Zone Awareness Week at the beginning of the highway construction season to bring national attention to motorist and worker safety and mobility issues in work zones. 

For transportation news and updates visit MassDOT at our website: www.mass.gov/massdot, blog: www.mass.gov/blog/transportation, or follow MassDOT on twitter at www.twitter.com/massdot.