As it has since 2002, the Illinois State Fair this year hosted a somber reminder of a transportation hazard: a wall memorializing the names of those killed in highway work zones.
The American Traffic Safety Services Association's (ATSSA) National Work Zone Memorial Wall (NWZ Memorial) is "is a living tribute to their memory, traveling to communities cross-country year-round to raise public awareness of the need to respect and stay safe in America's roadway work zones, according to the ATSSA.
"Since the early days of our nation’s roadways, men, women and children have senselessly died in work zones. The number of deaths has decreased - from 868 in 1999 to 576 in 2010. The unseen faces and lives have, in many cases, been forgotten - until now."
An average of 20 to 30 people die in work zones annually, with an average of at least one fatality involving a worker. In 2012, 19 people died in work zones - 10 drivers, 3 passengers in vehicles, 2 pedestrians, 2 motorcyclists and 2 construction workers.
“This memorial wall serves as a reminder that too many people are dying on Illinois roadways,” said Illinois Transportation Secretary Ann L. Schneider. “We want to honor and remember the lives lost over the years and encourage drivers to always drive the posted speed limit, eliminate all distractions and put down your cell phone in work zones to help make sure you and others sharing the road arrive to your destinations safely.”
The wall was on display at the Illinois State Fairgrounds last week but Illinois is not the only location to host the wall. The NWZ Memorial travels to communities throughout the country, raising the public’s awareness to the need to respect safety in work zones
The NWZ Memorial is available to anyone interested in increasing public awareness in roadway safety. Click here for an application to host the wall, to submit the name of someone who's been killed in a work zone or to search for a name.