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News Release

April 26, 2004

Worker Memorial Day Observance
Need for drivers to improve safety in highway work zones

Mankato, Minn.-Minnesota Department of Transportation employees will gather statewide on April 28, Worker Memorial Day to honor their colleagues who were injured or killed in the line of duty.

The observance salutes the 28 Mn/DOT employees and eight State Patrol officers who died in work-related incidents. State officials will urge motorists to use extra caution to ensure their own as well as highway workers' safety.

During the period between 1990 and 2002, an average of 12 motorists died each year in Minnesota due to work-zone related crashes. Each year, there was an average of 743 injury-related crashes.

In 2002 (the latest year that data are available), 18 motorists died in work zone crashes; 64 people were severely injured. Analysis of the crashes that resulted in death or severe injury shows that more than half were caused by driver inattention or excessive speed.

"We haven't had a traffic-related work zone fatality involving a Mn/DOT employee since 1989," said Bob Winter, District Operations Division director, who manages Mn/DOT's construction and maintenance activities statewide. "We have had, however, thousands of crashes, most of them avoidable, which have caused death or serious injuries to hundreds of motorists traveling through our work zones."

Winter said drivers can take three simple steps to improve their safety, the safety of their passengers and the safety of the crews working to improve Minnesota roads:

- Slow down and obey the speed limit as soon as you see an orange cone or sign.
- Pay attention: stay off your cell phone, don't switch radio stations and keep your eyes on the road.
- Don't tailgate.

Two employees from Mn/DOT's Mankato/District 7, Larry Cooper and Mark Scheidel, will perform music recognizing the people who work on the state's highway system at the observance in St. Paul. A Mn/DOT employee injured when he was plowing snow in 1998, leaders from Mn/DOT, the Department of Public Safety and the Department of Labor and Industry and the union that represents highway workers will make remarks. At 2 p.m., a message from Lt. Gov./Commissioner Carol Molnau will be broadcast throughout the department. A moment of silence will follow.

Some Mankato Mn/DOT District 7 employees will join a gathering of trades workers at the Minnesota State University Student Union construction project at noon to commemorate the day.

For information about road construction activity, call 5-1-1 or go to www.511mn.org on the Web.
In Work Zones: Pay Attention or Pay the Price.

Too Fast. Too Close. Too Late.
See ORANGE.

We’re in the WORK ZONE Together

For statewide up-to-date traveler information, Minnesotans are now able to access weather-related road conditions, construction and congestion by dialing 511 or by logging on to www.511mn.org

District 7, Mankato/Windom
501 S. Victory Dr.
Mankato, MN 56001-5302
Tel: 800/657-3747
Fax: 507/389-6281

Contact:
Rebecca Arndt
Public Affairs Coordinator
507/389-6883