ODOT, OTA honors fallen workers Friday with a Moment of Silence to cap off National Work Zone Safety Awareness Week
The Oklahoma Department of Transportation and the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority continue to highlight work zone safety awareness during April with its campaign of Make it Home Safe; Make Oklahoma Safe. This effort focuses on what ODOT and OTA are doing to improve highway safety and what motorists can do to help decrease potentially preventable deaths. Today also marks the final day of Oklahoma Work Zone Awareness Week in the state, which coincides with National Work Zone Awareness Week, April 17-21.
A Moment of Silence event for ODOT and OTA fallen workers was held this morning at the Fallen Workers Memorial located at the ODOT Central Offices. Speakers for the event included Secretary of Transportation Tim Gatz, Rep. Nicole Miller, ODOT Deputy Director Dawn Sullivan, OTA Director of Maintenance Mark Kalka and ODOT Director of Maintenance Taylor Henderson. The names of the 61 fallen ODOT workers are etched in a memorial at ODOT's central offices and the names of the 11 fallen OTA workers are included on a memorial wall at the turnpike headquarters to honor and remember their sacrifice in service to the state. In Oklahoma's history, ODOT and OTA have lost more employees in the line of duty than any other state agency, besides the military. We remember with respect and reverence those lost and all impacted by their loss.
Since spring and summer are typically a time for more work zones to start up; taking advantage of better weather, ODOT and OTA are encouraging motorists to slow down, put away distractions and to always buckle up. In fact, there will be more than 160 highway work zones along with numerous temporary maintenance work zones statewide through summer. This work is critical to maintain and improve our highway and turnpike infrastructure.
In Oklahoma work zones in the past five years:
- 91 people were killed
- This included 1 ODOT worker
- Nearly 1,300 people were injured in more than 7,125 crashes statewide
- While 2022 data is still coming in, 5 people were killed and 81 were injured in 273 collisions in work zones through May 2022.
While worker safety is a huge concern, the department is just as concerned about motorist safety as the number of motorists killed in construction zones is exponentially higher than the number of workers killed in the line of duty. Whether it’s a temporary maintenance work zone or a major multi-year reconstruction project – anytime traffic is sharing the roadway with workers requires everyone’s absolute attention to the road and observance of reduced speed limits and other traffic control.
The top three causes of work zone fatalities are: speeding, following too closely and inattention behind the wheel. Eliminating these dangerous driving habits will help keep you and others safe. We’re urging motorists to plan their routes ahead of time, use their seat belts, slow down and put away distractions each and every time they get behind the wheel.
Here's a list of additional work zone safety awareness activities this week:
- April 21 —The oil derrick statues and other lights at the I-40 Diverging Diamond Interchange in Elk City will glow orange in honor of fallen workers and motorists. This coincides with National Work Zone Safety Awareness Week.
- April 23 — The Crystal Bridge Conservancy at the Myriad Gardens in downtown Oklahoma City will glow orange the evening of April 23 in remembrance of fallen workers and motorists.
The best way to not be caught off guard in work zones is to check before you go by using online tools such as the free Drive Oklahoma mobile app, checking traffic advisories or a map of current work zones at odot.org or viewing current traffic conditions at www.oktraffic.org.
A Moment of Silence event for ODOT and OTA fallen workers was livestreamed statewide for employees Friday morning at ODOT Central Offices. The event marks the final day of Oklahoma Work Zone Awareness Week in the state, which coincides with National Work Zone Awareness Week, April 17-21. Speakers included Secretary of Transportation Tim Gatz, Rep. Nicole Miller, ODOT Deputy Director Dawn Sullivan, ODOT Director of Maintenance Taylor Henderson and OTA Director of Maintenance Mark Kalka.