Federal and state governments should set a goal of reducing the number of highway work zone fatalities by 50 percent within the next two years as the best way to improve the safety of areas around highway construction sites, Stephen E. Sandherr, chief executive officer of the Associated General Contractors said yesterday, according to an AGC of America press release.

Noting that the number of people killed in highway work zones has averaged 1,000 per year for the past decade, Sandherr said it was time to set national and state-by-state goals to improve safety. He added that setting a two-year goal to cut those fatalities in half would put needed focus on improving work zone safety as countless stimulus-funded projects get underway.

“There is simply no reason that people are dying every eight hours in a highway work zone in this country,” Sandherr said at the beginning of the 10th annual National Work Zone Awareness Week. “It shouldn't cost a life to rebuild a road or repair a bridge.”

Sandherr credited state and federal officials for working hard to improve the safety of the nation’s highway construction areas. He noted for example that many states double moving violations near work zones and regularly post law enforcement officials near road construction sites. But he added that despite those measures, almost 60,000 people have been injured in highway work zones every year for the past 10 years.

“It is time to back good intentions with hard results,” Sandherr said. “Setting clear targets is the best way to hold officials and motorists accountable for work zone safety.”