Last Modified: Thursday, April 25, 2013 6:00 PM
Destination zero deaths.
That’s the name given to a new initiative of the state Department of Transportation and Development. The DOTD last week joined with the Texas Department of Transportation, the Federal Highway Administration, and local and state officials in a mission to educate drivers to keep work zones safe for other travelers and those working in roadway construction zones.
Nationwide, more than 1,000 people lose their lives in work zone crashes every year, according to state police Sgt. James Anderson. Most of those accidents are caused by inattentive driving, he said.
He advises staying alert and aware on the highway, and becoming especially aware when one sees an 18-wheeler slowing down. Truck drivers have high vantage points and can more easily see what’s down the road, he said. If the big trucks are slowing down, there’s usually a good reason why, and other drivers should take heed.
DOTD Secretary Sherri LeBas also reminds drivers not to text on cellphones while driving. Our state has seen a 32 percent reduction in highway fatalities, said LeBas, but she added that “one death is too many.”
If drivers need reminding about another roadway issue, it’s staying in the right lane on multilane highways except when passing or turning, according to Anderson.
It’s the courteous thing to do, he said, and it’s also a state law. R.S. 32:71 B says vehicles are only to enter the left lane of multilane highways when preparing for a left turn; passing a vehicle in the same direction; or when right-hand lanes are congested. At all other times, they should remain in the right-hand lane.
The law also says that motorists driving in the left lane at a speed slower than 10 mph less than the posted speed limit may be subject to 30 days in jail.
Drivers often ignore this law, said Anderson, but state police look for and fine violators on a regular basis.
Last week, April 15-19, was declared Work Zone Awareness Week in Louisiana by Gov. Bobby Jindal. But why limit that awareness to just one week? As motorists, let us stay attentive and mindful of other drivers and construction zone workers all year long. And let’s remember to be courteous to other drivers by staying in the right lane on our own accord.
As LeBas put it, “Safety is everyone’s responsibility.”
This editorial was written by a member of the American Press Editorial Board. Its content reflects the collaborative opinion of the Board, whose members include Bobby Dower, Jim Beam, Crystal Stevenson and Donna Price.