Lansing, MI - In 2021, three people lost their lives while working to improve Michigan roads: Lawrence "Larry" Leonarduzzi from the Iron County Road Commission, Reason Tillman-Morgan from Anlaan Corp., and Shawn Kelley from STARS Ready Labor. These tragedies could have been avoided by drivers adhering to basic rules of the road.
The Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) and other road agencies around the state are working hard to rebuild Michigan's roads and bridges, so stay alert and be vigilant when you’re behind the wheel. In 2021, preliminary work zone crash information shows that there were:
- 19 fatalities,
- 65 serious injuries, and
- 5,047 total crashes.
National Work Zone Awareness Week (NWZAW) has been observed for more than 20 years and was launched as a public awareness campaign to help everyone understand they play a key role in keeping motorists and roadway workers safe. This year's theme, "Work Zones are a Sign to Slow Down," emphasizes the importance of driving safely and workers making safety a priority to ensure that we all work together to save lives in work zones.
A media event will be held next Monday, April 11, featuring transportation, safety, and government officials from across the country. The event will be available to view on MDOT’s YouTube channel at www.youtube.com/MichiganDOT.
With Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's $3.5 billion Rebuilding Michigan program underway, there are numerous projects all throughout the state. Some are big, some are small, but they all require your undivided attention.
"We can fix our roads and bridges safely if we all work together," said Gov. Whitmer. "Our road agencies work diligently to create safe work zones, and motorists need to be responsible and cautious when driving through them."
"We understand that rebuilding our infrastructure can be an inconvenience to drivers, but there's more at stake here than time and money," said State Transportation Director Paul C. Ajegba. "A few seconds of inattention can equate to a lifetime of grief and regret."
There are more than just road and bridge crews that need safe work zones. All kinds of infrastructure are in need of repair, including fiberoptic, water, sanitation, natural gas, and electricity.
"I implore drivers to slow down, avoid all distractions, and remain alert when driving through a work zone each and every time," said LeeRoy Wells Jr., senior vice president of operations at Consumers Energy. "Despite working with electricity and natural gas, some days vehicles present the biggest threats we face, and we rely on you, the drivers, to operate your vehicles safely to allow us to go home to our families unharmed."
To create awareness and show your support for brave work zone crews, MDOT encourages everyone to wear orange on Wednesday, April 13. We can all make it home safely if we work together, so "Go Orange" at home or in the field and share a photo on social media of you or your team wearing orange using hashtags #Orange4Safety, #GoOrangeDay, and #NWZAW.
MDOT reminds everyone to know before you go. Check www.Michigan.gov/Drive for active work zones on state roads (I, M and US routes) before heading out.
Since 2000, NWZAW is part of the Toward Zero Deaths (TZD) national safety campaign, a vision of eliminating fatalities on our nation's roads.