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DOTD urges safety in April

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BATON ROUGE, La. (KNOE 8 News) – Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development Secretary Sherri H. LeBas, P.E., announced today the state's month-long campaign to promote safe driving practices, especially emphasizing the need to use extreme caution while driving through work zones.

"Safety while driving is the responsibility of all motorists," said DOTD Secretary LeBas. "I urge everyone to practice safe driving and remain cautious and focused behind the wheel, especially when driving through work zones."

Nationally recognized, Louisiana has proclaimed April 7-11 as Work Zone Awareness Week with the theme "Work Zone Speeding: A Costly Mistake." In line with this year's theme, DOTD will join forces with its federal, state and local safety partners to promote highway safety with a number of events and activities, including two Facebook campaigns.

Since 1989, in work zones, there have been 314 motor-vehicle fatalities in Louisiana, and most recently, in 2012, 12 deaths and 661 injuries. The data gathered is the most recent year for which figures were available from the federal Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS).

"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.

Also, through the Destination Zero Deaths initiative, Louisiana has made tremendous progress in improving safety on its roadways by decreasing the number of motor-vehicle fatalities from 993 in 2007 to 722 in 2012. However, the department believes one fatality is too many.

In recognition of work zone awareness, a 609-safety cone memorial will be displayed on the front lawn of the DOTD Headquarters Building in Baton Rouge, to recognize those who lost their lives in work zones nationwide. Similar cone memorials will be erected in other areas around the state.

"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," said Colonel Mike Edmonson, Louisiana State Police Superintendent.

"Safety in work zones won't happen by itself," said Lt. Col. John LeBlanc, Executive Director, Louisiana Highway Safety Commission. "We are all in this together. Everyone is responsible for work zone safety, from engineers and planners to drivers and pedestrians."

Also, DOTD has also launched its statewide "Vested Interest in Safety" Facebook campaign to display photos of companies, employees, community members and local leaders wearing orange safety vests. 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.

Lastly, DOTD will join forces with its Destination Zero Deaths partners, which include the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), Louisiana State Police, Louisiana Highway Safety Commission and various other stakeholders, to host a press conference on the front lawn of DOTD's headquarters building in Baton Rouge. The event will be held on Thursday, April 3, at 1 p.m.

or more information, 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).

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