While going green has been the popular trend, the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) is going orange this week. From April 4 through 9, it will be joining other state and national groups to celebrate National Work Zone Awareness Week.
According to its spokesperson, WSDOT will show its support by trading in its traditional green and switching to orange for one week on its Web site.
“Going orange is an opportunity for all of us to show support for those working Washington’s roadsides, whether they’re with WSDOT, cities, counties, utilities or contractors,” said Paula Hammond, Washington transportation secretary. “By raising awareness about work zone safety, we help ensure that all workers get home safely to their families each night.”
WSDOT and highway road crews ask drivers to slow down and pay attention when traveling through construction zones. In Washington, more than 11,000 collisions occurred in work zones between 2005 and 2009. Of those collisions, close to 4,000 caused injuries and 46 caused someone’s death.
In efforts to preventing accidents involving emergency vehicles on the side of the highway, the Washington State Patrol said it will also be cracking down on motorists who fail to hit the brakes.
WSP said in the past three months, it has been focusing on educating drivers about the new Emergency Zone Law, which went into effect on Jan. 1, 2011. However, starting April 1, state troopers will begin writing tickets to motorists who fail to slow down or move over when passing stationary emergency vehicles on the side of the highway.
The emergency vehicles include police cars, fire and emergency medical service vehicles, tow trucks and WSDOT vehicles. Under the law, the fine will double if you’re speeding or fail to move over when passing through the emergency zone.
The state passed the original "Move Over" law in 2007. However despite this change, the problem continued to get worse, according to WSP. Between 2006 and 2009, the WSP alone had 80 collisions involving passing vehicles striking trooper vehicles parked alongside the highway. The major contributing factor in these collisions were speeding or driving too fast for conditions, followed by DUI.
In addition to the National Work Zone Awareness Week celebration, WSDOT will post photos and tributes to roadway workers and share ideas for work zone safety on its social media sites, including Twitter, Flickr, Facebook and Blogger.