Skip to main content

Behind the Cones: It takes a team to make highway work zones safe

Monday, April 04, 2016

Date: Monday, April 4, 2016
Press Release # 16-014

Tanya Adams still vividly remembers the day in a highway work zone that a van drove into a closed lane where she was working and literally knocked a shovel out of her hands. The van didn’t stop to see if she was injured.

“If I had been standing up, the mirror would have hit me in the head,” said Adams, a Tulsa County maintenance worker for the Oklahoma Department of Transportation. “Just thinking about that still haunts me. God was watching out for me that day.”

This is just one example of a close call experienced by ODOT highway maintenance and construction workers on a regular basis. It’s just one of the reasons why the department is launching a two-month work zone awareness campaign — First Line of Defense: Behind the Cones. The campaign will show the real dangers ODOT crews and industry partners face every time they are working on Oklahoma’s highways.

Just as importantly, many motorists do not realize that work zones are as much a danger to them as to workers. In the past five years, 84 people have been killed and 4,260 injured in Oklahoma work zones.

“All too often, drivers are in a rush to get to their destination and don’t realize the dangers that distractions present while trying to get to the end zone of the work zone,” said Mike Patterson, ODOT executive director.

During the next two months, Oklahomans will have the opportunity to learn how they can be part of the “first line of defense” by putting away distractions and becoming more alert as soon as they see orange signs, cones and barrels along state highways and interstates.

Highlights of the campaign include:

  • The debut of a Facebook cause page at, which will be the hub of information about work zones and safety along Oklahoma highways.
  • Work Zone Wednesdays will highlight a new work zone safety message every Wednesday starting this Wednesday on highway digital message signs in the Oklahoma City and Tulsa metro areas.
  • Public Service Announcements for television and radio will be distributed featuring a sports theme. Print profiles of ODOT workers from across the state sharing their unique perspective from “Behind the Cones” also will be available. The TV and radio PSAs may be viewed at
  • Gov. Mary Fallin proclaimed April and May as Work Zone Awareness Months, which was read into the record today at the Oklahoma Transportation Commission monthly meeting.
  • May 2 will be Wear Orange Day at all ODOT facilities and the public is invited to join in supporting workers. Additionally, workers who are being profiled in the campaign, known as Work Zone Warriors, will be recognized at the 11 a.m. May 2 Oklahoma Transportation Commission regularly scheduled meeting.
  • May 9, the I-40 SkyDance bridge in Oklahoma City and the Tulsa Performing Arts Center, 110 E. Second St. in Tulsa, will display orange lights to remember ODOT’s 59 fallen workers and serve as a visual reminder to put down distractions and get safely through work zones.
  • May 13-22, the National Work Zone Memorial Wall created and maintained by the American Traffic Safety Services Foundation will make its first stop in Oklahoma. Visitors will find the names of more than 1,400 highway and construction workers, law enforcement, motorists and pedestrians killed in work zones, including ODOT’s 59 names. Action Safety Supply Co. of Oklahoma City is sponsoring the 10-paneled, 20-foot wide structure’s visit to both Tulsa and Oklahoma City. The memorial wall will be on display from May 13-18 at Penn Square Mall in Oklahoma City and from May 20-22 at Woodland Hills Mall in Tulsa.

“We know that construction zones can be tedious for drivers, but their safety is the No. 1 reason for our workers to be out on highways in the first place. Repairing and maintaining Oklahoma’s 30,000 highway lane miles is of paramount priority to ensuring motorist safety statewide,” Patterson said. “We hope that by highlighting what happens behind the scenes in a work zone, drivers will have a greater understanding of their role in helping everyone go home safely at the end of the work day.”

ODOT appreciates its partners Action Safety Supply Co., Simon Properties, AAA Oklahoma and law enforcement statewide among others. The most important partner in keeping work zones safe, though, is drivers and they contribute in numerous ways, including remaining alert, slowing down and putting away distractions while driving. The department appreciates motorists joining ODOT’s work zone safety team in an effort to ensure everyone goes home safely each day.

Tanya Adams, a Tulsa County maintenance worker for ODOT

Tanya Adams, a Tulsa County maintenance worker for ODOT, is one of several highway workers urging motorists to be work zone aware heading into the summer driving season. Motorists are a key partner in improving safety along Oklahoma highways.


(Editors and News Directors: For more information, call the ODOT Media and Public Relations Division at 405-521-6000.)

Last Modified on Oct 23, 2020
Back to Top