Greensboro - Officials from the N.C. Department of Transportation and N. C. Governors Highway Safety Program gathered in Greensboro on Friday morning to launch Work Zone Awareness Month and Week.
Dozens of employees from NCDOT and the State Highway Patrol rallied at the Triad Piedmont Traffic Management Center, sharing stories about their experiences with work zone incidents. One of those workers was Bill Barger, a State Farm Incident Management Assistance Patrol driver who nearly lost his life after a driver failed to adhere to the Move Over Law.
"I was parked on U.S. 421 North, assisting Kernersville Police with a stranded motorist when a tractor trailer driver did not move over and struck my vehicle," said Barger. "Had I not been able to get out of the way, I might not be here today."
Incidents like this happen far too often.
"In 2016, there were 5,831 work zone crashes in North Carolina, which resulted in 26 fatalities and more than 3,000 injuries," NCDOT State Traffic Engineer Kevin Lacy said. "Two of those killed were transportation workers."
State officials remind drivers to pay attention to signs for construction information, stay alert and obey the Move Over Law.
The law requires motorists to move over one lane, if possible, or reduce speed for stopped construction and emergency vehicles with flashing lights on the shoulder of the highway. Violating the law could result in a $250 fine.
"If you see flashing lights, move over and let them live," said N.C. Governor's Highway Safety Program Director Don Nail.
National Work Zone Awareness Week is April 3 through April 7. This annual campaign is held at the start of construction season to encourage safe driving through highway work zones. The key message is for drivers to slow down, do not drive distracted, and use extra caution in work zones.
Governor Roy Cooper declared April as Work Zone Awareness Month, as well.
The Work Zone Awareness campaign complements NC Vision Zero initiative, which aims to save lives on North Carolina roadways. The goal is to reach zero traffic-related fatalities through coordinated agency-to-agency efforts that help reduce risky driving behaviors by changing the overall traffic safety culture. No loss of life is acceptable.