It’s got to be one of the worst phone calls to receive as a state Department of Transportation director. To find out you have an injured employee or, even worse, a fatality in a work zone — something that is totally preventable if people are driving safely through a work zone.
It’s a call I did receive on March 4, 2020. Frank Dorizio, a member of the Arizona Department of Transportation’s Incident Response Unit, was killed while on duty, setting up a sign alerting drivers to pavement repairs along Interstate 10 south of the Phoenix area.
He was the first ADOT worker since 1998 to be struck and killed while working along a highway.
Two contractor employees have been injured this year — one a fatality. The fatality occurred on State Route 347 near the city of Maricopa, while the injured construction worker was part of a paving project on Interstate 10 near Benson this past week.
With April 26-30 designated as “Work Zone Awareness Week,” it’s important to remind everyone of the need for work zone safety.
At ADOT, we put safety first when establishing work zones. We designate work zones with signage, barricades, cones and orange or yellow vests. We want to ensure workers and drivers have enough space to safely navigate through a work zone.
Besides our transportation crews, we have first responders like law enforcement, firefighters and tow truck operators who also need a safe area to work.
We just need drivers to pay attention when entering work zones. National data shows motorists are the ones killed most frequently in work zones because of speed and not paying attention.
Our True North, Safely Home, means we want you and your loved ones to arrive home safely.
This holds true for our ADOT employees who deserve to get Safely Home, every day.
Being in a work zone is a risk our construction and maintenance crews take on each and every day. Please pay attention while driving through work zones!
John Halikowski is director of the Arizona Department of Transportation. Visit azdot.gov.