2006 Give 'em a Brake Campaign Kick Off
Thursday, May 11, 2006
Posted by: Nancy Brown
Michigan's Give 'em a Brake Safety Coalition kicked off its annual highway work zone safety campaign at a news conference May 11, and urged motorists to pay close attention to a new highway work zone speed limit sign. Rob Coppersmith, vice president of membership services for MITA, was a featured speaker. Other speakers included: Kirk T. Steudle, director, Michigan Department of Transportation; Col. Tadarial J. Sturdivant, director, Michigan State Police; Dennis Gillow, infrastructure director, Operating Engineers Local 324; and, James A. Santilli Jr., Michigan Highway Traffic Safety Alliance.
The new sign, “Where Workers Present 45,” means that motorists must reduce their speed to 45 miles per hour where workers are present in highway work zones. Last year, motorists were required to reduce their speed to 45 in highway work zones - even where workers were not present. This new speed limit change is expected to improve traffic flow and enhance safety in work zones. "We need to give all road workers a safe work environment,” said Kirk Steudle, director, Michigan Department of Transportation. “Highway road workers deserve all motorists' utmost devotion to safety. If we just give road workers some room to do their job, they'll be finished much more quickly. And, more important, they'll be able to go home to their families every night.”
Throughout the 2006 construction season, motorists will be advised to “Look, Locate, and Lower” when traveling through work zones. Specifically, when approaching “Road Work Ahead” signs, motorists should maintain the posted speed limit, look for workers, locate workers, and lower speed to 45 where workers are present. Michigan's Give 'em a Brake Safety Coalition, representing union road workers, law enforcement, road builders and transportation interests, hopes that establishment and use of the new requirements will provide consistent application of speed limits in all work zones in order to protect highway workers and motorists.
“We believe the new speed rules, which were established by the Michigan Department of Transportation, labor organizations and the Michigan Infrastructure & Transportation Association, will provide consistent application of speed limits in all work zones to promote the safety and protection of workers and motorists,” said Dennis Gillow, infrastructure director, Operating Engineers Local 324. Fines for motorists that are caught speeding in construction zones are doubled.
A motorist that injures or kills a road worker faces up to 10 years in jail and $7,500 in fines. In 2005, there were 20 fatalities, with 1,811 injuries and 6569 work zone crashes in Michigan, a slight improvement over 2004 data. “As always, work zones will have additional signage regarding road work ahead, reduced speed zone ahead, work zone begins, end road work and lane closure signs” said Rob Coppersmith, of MITA. “The Where Workers Present 45 sign will make enforcement of work zone speed limits easier than in the past.”
This year's campaign also includes a new bumpers sticker and statewide radio ad campaign. Michigan's Give 'em a Brake Safety Coalition members include: Michigan Department of Transportation; Michigan Infrastructure & Transportation Association; Michigan Laborers' District Council; Michigan Building & Construction Trades Council; Operating Engineers Local 324; and, the Michigan Highway Traffic Safety Alliance.
Other advisory members of the coalition include: the Michigan State Police; Michigan Office of Highway Safety Planning; Michigan Center for Truck Safety; the Michigan Secretary of State's Office; NES Traffic Safety and Sara Nelson, a highway safety advocate.