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Work zone safety and awareness more critical than ever

ATSSA reiterates need for driver attention in work zones following six recent deaths

ATSSA President & CEO Stacy Tetschner expressed his condolences to the families who lost loved ones in last week’s tragic work zone incident in Baltimore County, Md., in which six people were killed.

“ATSSA is deeply saddened by yet another tragedy that resulted in the loss of essential workers within our industry.  More important than being workers, these individuals had families and loved ones they did not return home to. Our thoughts and prayers are with the families and loved ones of Sybil Lee Dimaggio, Carlos Orlando Villatoro Escobar, Jose Armando Escobar, Rolando Ruiz, Mahlon Simmons II and Mahlon Simmons III.”

The six workers were killed March 22 in Maryland while working to improve a roadway and ensure the safety of all road users. 

“This devastating event serves as a stark reminder of the importance of work zone safety and the risks faced by roadway construction workers every day. It is crucial that the industry and the driving public come together to prevent future tragedies like this one from occurring,” Tetschner said.

ATSSA’s Chesapeake Chapter President issued a statement regarding the deaths of the roadway workers.

“We are saddened to hear of the passing of the six roadway workers last week. It’s a reminder that our efforts in work zone safety are so important and we must double our efforts moving forward. On behalf of the Chesapeake ATSSA Chapter we send our thoughts and prayers to the families affected by this tragedy,” said Chapter President David May. 

The Maryland Transportation Builders and Materials Association (MTBMA) has organized a moment of silence for noon today.

“We request all member companies to inform their staff, both in the field and in the office, to join us in this solemn tribute by taking a moment of silence. We hope that this small gesture will help us remember the lives lost and extend our deepest sympathies to their families and loved ones. We ask all of our transportation community to join in solidarity with agency partners, MDOT, and the entire transportation community to observe this important moment of silence,” MTBMA said in its announcement.

It is with the safety of roadway workers, motorists, their passengers and pedestrians in mind that National Work Zone Awareness Week (NWZAW) has been held annually since 2000. ATSSA partners with organizations such as the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), the American Association of State Highway Transportation Officials (AASHTO), the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the American Road & Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA) and state departments of transportation (DOTs) to increase public awareness about the importance of safe driving practices in work zones.

This year’s NWZAW campaign occurs April 17-21 with specific events happening daily. The week concludes with a Moment of Silence on April 21 to remember all those who have lost their lives in work zones.

Senators Mike Braun (R-IN) and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) earlier this month introduced a resolution to recognize NWZAW and the importance of safe driving in work zones.  ATSSA recently joined 13 other roadway safety groups supporting this resolution, which was inspired by the death of an Indiana traffic control flagger in a work zone.  This collaboration amplifies ATSSA’s dedication to moving our country Toward Zero Deaths on our roadways.

The Senates resolution notes that 857 work zone fatalities occurred in 2020, the most recent year for which U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) statistics are available. Fifty-one of the pedestrians were construction, utility or roadway workers. In addition, 44,240 people suffered injuries in work zone crashes in 2020, the resolution states.

“ATSSA will continue working closely with federal, state and local authorities, as well as industry partners, to enhance work zone safety measures and raise awareness about the importance of safe driving practices in these areas,” Tetschner said. “It is crucial that we all come together to prevent future tragedies like this one from occurring. ATSSA’s core purpose is to advance roadway safety and we are committed to a world with zero work zone fatalities. We will not rest until we achieve that goal.”

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