Construction group launches new highway work zone safety effort

INDIANAPOLIS - Memorial Day is right around the corner and with it comes construction season across Indiana. That's way a group of construction workers and contractors have launched a new national campaign to keep both workers and motorists safe this summer.

The announcement was made at the Indiana State Police district 52 Thursday morning. Leaders picked Indiana as the launch because of its higher than average reports of injuries and deaths in work zones.

Seventy-two percent of highway contractors in Indiana report that motor vehicles had crashed into their construction work zones during the past year, nearly double the national rate of 44 percent, according to the results of a new highway work zone study conducted by the Associated General Contractors of America.

"There is no meeting, email or text that is more important than the safety of workers or motorists," said Brian Turmail, the association's national spokesman. "It is absolutely essential for every driver to slow down, pay attention and put the phone down when they are in highway work zones."

Turmail said that work zone crashes pose a significant risk not only to construction workers but also to people in cars. He noted that, nationwide, work zone crashes injure construction workers nearly 25 percent of the time while those crashes injure drivers or passengers 49 percent of the time. In Indiana, meanwhile, work zone crashes injure drivers and passengers 44 percent of the time, and construction workers 53 percent of the time.

Too many work zone crashes result in fatalities, Turmail said, noting that hundreds of construction workers lose their lives in highway work zones each year. Nationwide drivers and passengers are killed in 13 percent of work zone crashes and workers are killed in 11 percent of those crashes. He added that Indiana workers are killed in 38 percent of those crashes, according to the study.

Radio ads started airing Thursday. Turmail said they will run in Indianapolis for at least a week.

To listen to the new radio ad click here.

Joining leaders on the announcement included Milestone Contractors president CJ Potts, who said he has had several workers injured on the job. One was even killed after a motorists struck a worker in a work zone area.

“Stop a minute, just remember the families," Potts said. Yours, mine, theirs and remember there is someone looking forward to you, we, and me coming home safely.”

The work zone safety study was based on a nationwide survey of highway construction firms the association conducted this March and April. Over 700 contractors completed the survey nationwide, including 51 contractors from Indiana. Click here to view the national and Indiana highway construction zone survey results.