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Work zone awareness week brings renewed push for safety

2022-04-11 Traffic Cam 9th Street-EDIT.jpg
Arkansas Department of Transportation
Cars and trucks move through a construction zone on Interstate 30 in Little Rock near the Arkansas River.

This is National Work Zone Awareness Week with this year's theme being “Work Zones are a Sign to Slow Down.” Gov. Asa Hutchinson also signed a proclamation last month designating this week as Arkansas Work Zone Awareness Week.

Arkansas has several major interstate construction projects that are ongoing right now. The biggest is on I-30 over the Arkansas River. Work also continues on the I-430 crossing over the river and on the I-30 project between Benton and the U.S. 70 exit east of Malvern.

The Arkansas Department of Transportation (ARDOT) is using this to remind drivers to slow down and be more cautious when going through construction areas.

“The work zone incident rates are rising in Arkansas. They have been rising over the past few years and that aligns with national data,” said spokesperson Ellen Coulter.

According to the ARDOT website, the state had a total of 2,140 work zone vehicles crashes last year, resuling in 16 deaths and 54 serious injuries. In 2018, the state experienced nearly half as accidents, with 1,224 crashes reported.

In an effort to try and combat the rising number of accidents, earlier this year ARDOT partnered with the Arkansas State Police and the Highway Patrol to engage in a yearlong safety campaign. The Slow Down, Phone Down campaign began in February.

“This was not a ticket-writing campaign. We’re not out to get you. We just want you to be safe. But, yes, police are stationed in and around work zones,” said Coulter, “Safety is our top priority, like I said, so they will be issuing tickets if you are speeding through a work zone.”

Coulter recommended slowing down, turning off cell phones, focusing on signage and watching for possible changes in traffic patterns while in work zones. That's to not only ensure the safety of drivers but people working in construction zones.

“There are people, real people, who are working in these construction zones that have families. They just want to get home to their family at the end of the day, just like we all do,” said Coulter.

She also added that Wednesday, April 13 is a day to wear orange to support work zone safety.

Remington Miller was an intern at KUAR News as part of the George C. Douthit Endowed Scholarship program. She later worked as a reporter and editor for the station.
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