National Work Zone Awareness Week was April 17-21 this year and less than 1 month after the tragic death of six workers at the I-695 TSMO site in Baltimore County on March 22. The Maryland I-695 crash was determined to be one of the deadliest road construction accidents since 1980 which further justifies the need to spread awareness and observance over work zone safety.
During NWZAW we participated in a Unity Ride organized by the Maryland Department of Transportation, with nearly 200 other industry vehicles. The ride honored the six state highway workers (Rolando Ruiz, Carlos Orlando Villatoro Escobar, Jose Armando Escobar, Mahlon Simmons III, Mahlon Simmons II, and Sybil Lee Dimaggio) who lost their lives in the I-695 TSMO site crash and reminded travelers that safe driving in work zones is a top priority.
The Unity Ride followed a designated route making a loop around the Baltimore Beltway making sure to adhere to the posted speed limit - taking careful note of the decrease in the enforced speed limit in active work zones.
Increased safety measures in work zones have been implemented and include added buffers between live traffic and workers to make the construction sites safer and posted additional signage in addition to the increased police presence that is monitoring for speeding. Transportation officials say excessive speeds, aggressive lane switching, and cellphone use are just some of the ways motorists further endanger the 300 work zones across Maryland every day.
Maryland Gov. Wes Moore and Lt. Gov. Aruna Miller also joined transportation officials at SHA headquarters to urge safety and awareness in work zones and declared Wednesday as Go Orange and Highway Worker Appreciation Day.