A publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Vested in Work Zone Safety Day participants reflect on lost lives to encourage lifesaving change

Against the backdrop of a seven-foot wall displaying 1,400 names from across the country, transportation leaders, surviving family members and law enforcement officials gathered to pay tribute to fallen road crew workers at a Vested in Work Zone Safety event at the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet (KYTC).

KYTC State Highway Engineer Patty Dunaway places roses in vase honoring the unnamed victims of work zone fatalities.

Hosted by the KYTC, in collaboration with the Kentucky Association of Highway Contractors (KAHC), the event featured the traveling National Work Zone Memorial Wall and communicated a unified message: travel through work zones as though lives – perhaps even your own – depend on it.

“This year we have already had one fatality in an active work zone, and that is one too many,” said Dr. Noelle Hunter, executive director of the Kentucky Office of Highway Safety. “We all speak with one voice in expressing our concern for the need to focus more attention on what we can do to reduce the number of preventable highway tragedies in work zones. Every driver can take simple steps to reverse this trend.”

Last year in Kentucky alone, 675 work zone crashes were responsible for 10 fatalities and 143 injured victims. According to the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), in work zones across the nation, one person dies every 13 hours and one person is injured every 13 minutes.

“On January 14, 2014, our family changed forever,” said Tonya Ashby, accompanied by nine of her family members. “It is my driven passion to make others aware of work zone safety. The Ashby family and I have the utmost respect for those working in all work zone areas and pray that you never have to experience the loss that we have experienced. Work zone safety is everyone’s responsibility.”

“We need to go beyond today in honoring the lives of those on the memorial here. I can think of no better way than to continue with a relentless focus on improving work zone safety. I want you to know it’s a personal commitment of mine and a commitment of this Cabinet,” said KYTC Sec. Greg Thomas.

“We want to ensure that our highway crews work in a safe environment while providing safe and reliable roads for the people of Kentucky,” said Chad LaRue, KAHC executive director. “It is the hope of all of us to eventually have a year where zero names are added to the wall.”

KYTC Secretary Greg Thomas commences the event.

Sponsored by the George B. Stone Company, of Sharpsburg, the National Work Zone Memorial Wall will be available for viewing at the KYTC central office in Frankfort through Thursday and will be moved to the Sharpsburg Community Center for display on Friday and Saturday. The memorial travels to communities cross-country, year-round to raise public awareness of the need to respect and stay safe in America’s roadway work zones.

Currently, the wall contains approximately 1,400 names of people, including 14 Kentuckians, who have lost their lives in highway work zones. The wall includes the names of workers, motorists, law enforcement officers, public safety officials, children and pedestrians. The names do not represent all work zone fatalities in Kentucky or across the nation. Names for inclusion on the wall can be submitted by individuals and state agencies through a form accessible here.

Event photographs can be viewed on KYTC’s Vested in Work Zone Safety Day Facebook album.

Commonwealth of Kentucky Transportation Cabinet

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