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weston-work-zone-safety-secretary-pollack-april-11-2017MassDOT today showcased items now being integrated into some work zone logistical setups in order to increase the safety of employees involved in maintenance and construction activities and law enforcement personnel who are deployed in order to better protect crews from passing vehicles.

At the Massachusetts State Police barracks in Weston, Transportation Secretary and CEO Stephanie Pollack joined Massachusetts State Police Lieutenant Colonel Edward Admodeo, Jeff Larason of the Executive Office of Safety and Security, industry leaders, and MassDOT staff for an equipment walk through and to underscore the need for drivers to follow directions on approach to work zones such as reducing speed and shifting lanes when indicated. The speakers also highlighted the dangers of impaired and distracting driving as examples were given of recent incidents in which drivers allegedly failed to yield or obey work zone signage and instead drove into arrow board trucks, construction barrels or parked construction equipment and law enforcement vehicles.

“Our first priority is safety and we encourage everyone using our roadways to drive in a responsible manner,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “We want drivers and work zone employees to all get home safely which means speed limits must be observed and followed on approach to work zones and travelers must keep their eyes on the road to follow signage and see work activities ahead.”

“Every motorist must recognize the importance of driving safely in work zones,” said Lieutenant Governor Polito. “With construction season beginning, it is imperative drivers remain aware of their surroundings, realize that work zone safety is in their hands, and uphold their responsibility to driving cautiously especially when crews are on the roadways.”

work-zone-safety-devices-2017The new safety devices and initiatives being pursued by MassDOT include: flashing blue LED lights on portable trailers to serve as the first stage of notification, temporary portable rumble strips placed at the entrances of work zones to alert drivers, truck mounted attenuators to shield highway workers, sequential drum lights to guide motorists away from closed sections of roadways, the “take five” huddle incorporated into construction projects to improve safety communication, work zone safety instructions included in drivers education to better promote safety principles, and radar speed feedback boards that display motorist speeds in order to encourage speed limit compliance.

“After several work zone crashes last year, we convened a task force to determine if additional steps could be taken to keep work zone crews safer,” said Secretary Pollack. “We are pleased that the task force has recommended several innovative measures and ideas and we are beginning to integrate these new features into MassDOT setups in order to increase safety for everyone. The deployment of warning-related equipment will help to better alert drivers, ensuring they have more time to move over and give extra space to the men and women who are on the roads doing the necessary work to improve and repair our roadway systems and allow travel throughout the Commonwealth.”

“The problems we are seeing in work zones are the same problem we are seeing on all roads – distraction and impairment,” said Jeff Larason. “Drivers need to pay attention and drive sober at all times.”

In 2016, the Work Zone Safety Task Force was convened to analyze and evaluate work zone activities. The Task Force has recommended several  new safety devices and initiatives, and the ideas come from a variety of professionals from several MassDOT departments including Traffic and Safety Engineering, Construction, Legal, and Operations and Management, as well as subject matter experts from the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), the Massachusetts State Police (MSP), the Executive Office of Public Safety and Security (EOPS), the Massachusetts Sheriff’s Associations, and Construction Industries of Massachusetts.

Since July 2016, when the Work Zone Safety Task Force was formed, until this past January, Massachusetts State Police documented 395 crashes within work zones under the jurisdiction of State Police in the state, which resulted in 181 injuries. A main connecting thread in many work zone incidents is alleged impaired driving from drunk, drugged, and drowsy drivers.

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