Urging motorists to “Stay Alert. Stay Alive.™” was just one of the messages shared during National Work Zone Awareness Week (NWZAW). NWZAW is an annual national campaign that is designed to encourage safe driving through work zones. This year’s theme was “Drive Like You Work Here.” And though the theme changes every year and there are many similar messages shared to the public, the underlying meaning behind them remains the same—slow down and avoid distractions in work zones.
Throughout the Mid-Atlantic region, Flagger Force partnered with organizations and associations to share this important safety message urging motorists to pay attention.
NWZAW KICK-OFF EVENT
This year, Flagger Force teamed up with the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission (PTC) and the Associated Pennsylvania Constructors (APC) to kick-off NWZAW. Overlooking the Interstate 283 interchange project in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania at the PTC headquarters on Tuesday, April 2, the event highlighted the importance of work zone safety across the commonwealth—shedding light on the increasing effects of distracted driving on work zone employees and motorists.
Speakers included stakeholders from the PTC, APC, and Flagger Force. Each speaker shared experiences and important messages about speeding and distracted driving through work zones. The most notable presenters were those who shared their own personal stories of the dangers of working in the field. PTC equipment operator, Mike Kates, talked about a time when him and his partner were struck by a tractor trailer while in a job site. “I should not be here; you’re talking to a dead man walking. My partner has had multiple critical back surgeries; he’ll never work again or play with his grandkids—all of this because of distracted driving,” said Kates.
Another impactful story was shared by Jackie McVey, a field specialist for Flagger Force, who recently had a “near-miss” incident while actively monitoring traffic in central Pennsylvania. “I remember immediately thinking just how lucky I was. Had my colleague and I been just a couple steps forward, we would have been struck by the car. I can’t imagine the impact that would have had on my one-year-old son and his future,” said McVey, who was inches away from being hit by an inattentive motorist.
“Although work zones may seem like an inconvenience to your normal commute,” said Mike Doner, president and CEO of Flagger Force, “they are necessary to keeping our communities moving. When you see a work zone it means that your community’s infrastructure is improving. In 2018, 97% of our employees reported witnessing distracted driving in their work zones, some of the distractions included texting and driving or looking down to turn the radio dial. We want to urge all motorists to slow down and stay alert while driving their vehicles.”
Attendees were also encouraged to visit to take the pledge to drive the posted speed limit in all work zones. Will you join us in taking the pledge?
VIRGINIA DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION SAFETY DAY
In Virginia, Governor Ralph Northam proclaimed the month of April as Highway Safety Month. According to a press release distributed by the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT), the total number of crash deaths in the commonwealth were down and pedestrian fatalities were at a ten-year high. Additionally, DriveSmartVA reports that last year in Virginia, there were 24,350 distraction-related crashes that killed 126 people and injured 13,733.
Nine VDOT workers lost their lives in 2018 from work zone-related crashes. To honor those who lost their lives and as an opportunity for VDOT employees and partners to discuss the importance of work zone safety, VDOT hosted an annual Work Zone Safety Day. Flagger Force attended this event to share our Safety-Driven® mission and organization efforts to improve work zone safety across Virginia and the Mid-Atlantic.
SPREADING AWARENESS THROUGH THE AIRWAYS
Historically, Flagger Force has aired a public service announcement during NWZAW to spread the message to avoid distracted driving. For 2019, this message was shared throughout Pennsylvania across various radio stations. Take a listen below!
Flagger Force also had the opportunity to speak with Michael Parks from WHP 580. Flagger Force’s Sean Lightner, VP of business development, and Josh Foltz, safety manager, discussed the importance of slowing down and staying alert when driving through work zones. To hear the full interview, visit https://whp580.iheart.com/featured/michael-parks/content/2019-04-03-4619-flagger-force-ntl-work-zone-awareness-week/.
PECO CROWN LIGHTS
Atop one of the tallest buildings in the city of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the message, “Stay Alert. Stay Alive.™” was displayed for all of the residents and tourists to see from Monday, April 8–Wednesday, April 10. The PECO building, a Philadelphia-based electric company, sports the Crown Lights, which were installed in 1976. Since it’s installation, there have been over 17,500 messages displayed on top of the building. This was the second time Flagger Force had the opportunity to display this important public service message, the first time being in 2018.
WHAT SAFETY MEANS TO ME
Flagger Force asked our employees, “What Does Safety Mean to You?” Various messages were shared, but all had the same underlining theme: to get home safely.
For example, Seth Hoosier, advanced crew leader from central Pennsylvania says, “Safety means teaching the Smith 5-Keys to new employees and others so we can all use them to get home safe and in one-piece.”
Check out the video below to hear some more safety messages from our team!
GO ORANGE DAY
To bring the important message of NWZAW into the office of Flagger Force, an internal campaign for “Go Orange Day” was developed, encouraging employees to wear a special t-shirt we created for the occasion with the saying: “PEOPLE AREN’T CONES.”
Go Orange Day is typically the Wednesday of NWZAW, this year landing on April 10, encouraging participants to wear orange for safety. When you see orange in a work zone, it is typically a piece of equipment, such as cones or barrels, which are items that are usually hit by distracted drivers. So, Flagger Force created our own messaging for this designated day. Employees throughout the company’s footprint participated in supporting this important day!
MARYLAND DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION STATE HIGHWAY ADMINISTRATION PRESS EVENT
Each year, the Maryland Department of Transportation State Highway Administration (SHA) hosts a press event in an active work zone to warn of the dangers to motorists during NWZAW. The location for this year’s event was overlooking a large project on Interstate 895, which will replace one of the bridges north of the Baltimore Harbor tunnel. Speakers of the event included Greg Slater, administrator for MDOT State Highway Administration; transportation secretary, Pete K. Rahn; and members of SHA and the Maryland State Police. Flagger Force attended the event to show our support for roadworkers in the state and to promote the message of “Drive Like You Work Here.”
“At MDOT, we focus on work zone safety every day, and we’re asking drivers to do the same. Simply slow down and pay attention,” said MDOT secretary Pete K. Rahn.
“In work zones, you’ll see the orange cones, barrels, and signs imploring drivers to focus,” said MDOT SHA administrator Greg Slater. “Please support the mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, sons, and daughters out there improving our roadway system.”
Additionally, Gov. Larry Hogan of Maryland designated the entire month of April as Work Zone Safety Awareness Month and Wednesday, April 10, as “Go Orange/Roadway Worker Appreciation Day.” Throughout Baltimore, landmarks such as the World Trade Center and M&T Bank Stadium were lit in orange in recognition.
WORK ZONE AWARENESS LASTS 365 DAYS A YEAR
Though NWZAW is over, work zone awareness never ends. We encourage all motorists to drive safely through work zones as roadway workers continue to keep your lights on, water flowing, and communities moving.