ANNAPOLIS, Md. – With 211 highway construction projects currently active across the state, officials from several Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT) agencies and the Maryland State Police (MSP) gathered today to urge Marylanders to slow down, stay alert and follow safe driving practices when traveling in work zones.
Leaders from MDOT State Highway Administration (MDOT SHA), MDOT Motor Vehicle Administration’s (MDOT MVA) Highway Safety Office, the Maryland Transportation Authority (MDTA) and MSP held a press conference along MD 32 in Howard County – the site of an ongoing MDOT roadway improvement project expected to be completed this summer.
“Spring and summer are busy construction seasons, and our crews are performing critical work to maintain and improve our transportation network and keep Maryland moving,” said MDOT Secretary James F. Ports, Jr. “These workers have the equipment and the training they need to keep themselves and others safe, but we need motorists to join the team. I’m asking every driver: Keep yourself, your passengers and our highway crews safe by slowing down and staying alert as you go through work zones.”
Over the last five years, there have been 7,704 work zone related crashes in Maryland, resulting in 3,263 injuries and claiming 46 lives, including drivers, passengers and highway workers.
To support work zone safety and acknowledge the everyday dedication of roadway workers, Governor Larry Hogan has proclaimed April as Work Zone Safety Month and declared April 13 “Go Orange & Highway Worker Appreciation Day.” On April 13, landmarks such as Government House in Annapolis and the World Trade Center in Baltimore will be lit orange as a tribute to highway workers.
In addition, MDOT SHA is conducting a social media campaign to raise awareness about safe driving in work zones and will share “Go Orange” efforts on its social media platforms with the hashtag #GoOrangeMD. All MDOT agencies will share work zone safety messages across their social media outlets as well. Marylanders can join the effort by wearing orange on April 13 in support of work zone safety, taking photos of their orange attire and posting them on their social media platforms using the #GoOrangeMD hashtag.
“One life lost on a Maryland highway is too many. Injuries and deaths can be avoided, especially in work zones,” MDOT SHA Administrator Tim Smith said. “MDOT SHA works hard to maintain safe traffic flow in our work zones for crews and customers. I’m pleading with motorists to focus on driving, follow reduced speed limits in work zones, expect driving pattern changes and be prepared to stop.”
Each year, distracted driving contributes to more than 26,000 injuries and 180 fatalities on Maryland roads. It’s also a leading factor in work zone crashes. MDOT MVA’s Highway Safety Office launched its “Be the Focused Driver” campaign in 2020 and works with law enforcement officials to encourage motorists to put down distractions and give driving their full attention when behind the wheel. To support work zone safety, the Highway Safety Office created a new graphic reminding motorists to “Be the Focused Driver” when approaching and driving in work zones.
“It’s imperative for drivers to remain alert at all times when driving, but especially in work zones,” said MDOT MVA Administrator Chrissy Nizer, who also serves as Governor Larry Hogan’s Highway Safety Representative. “We need motorists to put their phones down and eliminate distractions while driving. Lives are at risk. Be the Focused Driver and let’s all get home safely.”
Motorists are also encouraged to plan ahead and learn where construction projects are taking place before they hit the road. For a complete list of major roadway projects in Maryland, visit Project Portal. Drivers can also go to www.md511.org for live traffic updates, including constructions delays and lane closures.
For more information on Work Zone Safety, visit roads.maryland.gov and click on the work zone safety banner.