DOTD holds press conference for Work Zone Awareness Week in Baton Rouge
Thursday, April 03, 2014
BATON ROUGE, La. – Secretary Sherri H. LeBas, P.E., represented the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development today at a press conference to discuss the importance of driving safely through work zones. The press conference was held in conjunction with National Work Zone Awareness Week, which has been declared as April 7-11 in Louisiana.

Secretary LeBas said, “Tremendous progress has been made to improve safety on Louisiana’s roadways, with an overall decrease statewide in motor-vehicle fatalities from 993 in 2007 to 722 in 2012. However, we still have a long way. I urge everyone to practice safe driving and remain cautious and focused behind the wheel, especially when driving through work zones.”

The press conference was held on the front lawn of DOTD Headquarters at 1 p.m., where a 609-cone memorial was displayed to represent the lives lost nationwide in work zones in 2012. From this total, twelve deaths occurred in Louisiana with one of those in the greater Baton Rouge area. Additionally, work zone statistics show that since 1989, 314 people have died from motor-vehicle crashes statewide in work zones and 661 injuries occurred in 2012. The data gathered is the most recent year for which figures were available from the federal Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS).

Speakers at the ceremony included members of the Destination Zero Deaths initiative Charles “Wes” Bolinger, Division Administrator, Federal Highway Administration, Louisiana Division; Lt. J.B. Slaton, Louisiana State Police; and Ken Trull, Deputy Director, Louisiana Highway Safety Commission.

“Reducing congestion and crashes in work zones is a priority for the Federal Highway Administration here in Louisiana as well as across the country,” stated Wes Bolinger, Division Administrator, Federal Highway Administration, Louisiana Division.

When asked about work zone awareness, Lt. Col. John LeBlanc, Executive Director, Louisiana Highway Safety Commission, represented by Ken Trull at the press conference, said “Safety in work zones won't happen by itself. We are all in this together. Everyone is responsible for work zone safety, from engineers and planners to drivers and pedestrians.”

Colonel Mike Edmonson, Louisiana State Police Superintendent, who was represented by Lt. J.B. Slaton at the press conference, stated the following: "The Louisiana State Police has a long standing partnership with the Department of Transportation and Development, and troopers will continue to work diligently to promote work zone safety in Louisiana. Troopers remain committed to aggressive enforcement and delivering a proactive safety education message. Through these efforts, we hope to increase public awareness and directly improve work zone safety not only for the motoring public, but for the workers as well.”

In addition to the cone memorial and press conference at DOTD Headquarters in Baton Rouge, DOTD district offices in New Orleans, Lafayette, Shreveport and Monroe will be hosting similar events throughout the month of April to stress the importance of driving safely through work zones.

Moreover, DOTD has launched its statewide “Vested Interest in Safety” Facebook campaign to display photos of companies, employees, community members and local leaders wearing orange safety vests throughout the state. The public is encouraged to participate by submitting “vested” photos to DOTD’s Public Affairs Office, dotdpi@la.gov. Photos will be proudly displayed on the department’s Facebook page.

For more information about Work Zone Awareness or the department in general, please visit www.dotd.la.gov, email dotdcs@la.gov, or call DOTD’s Customer Service Center at (225) 379-1232 or 1-877-4LADOTD (1-877-452-3683). Business hours are 7:30 a.m. - 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.

Motorists can access up-to-date travel information by dialing 511 or by visiting www.511la.org. Out of-state travelers can call 1-888-ROAD-511 (1-888-762-3511).