Editor's Note: ‘We’re all in this together’

April 15-19 is National Work Zone Awareness Week 2013 – signaling the beginning of road construction season for many areas of the country.

In Itasca, IL, where the National Safety Council’s headquarters are located, safety cones and barrels have been a regular sight, as one of the area’s main roads has been under construction for more than a year. During that time, I’ve had many opportunities to observe the hazards that road construction crews are exposed to, not the least of which are drivers ignoring the “slow” signs displayed by flaggers – and frequently talking on cell phones.

April also is Distracted Driving Awareness Month. Here in Illinois, a law that went into effect in January bans handheld cell phone use in all work zones. (Previous bans covered only work zones with reduced speeds.) However, on any given day, one can observe multiple drivers disregarding the law, putting road construction workers, other drivers and themselves at risk.

The council believes all workers in all industries are at risk from distracted driving. In past columns I’ve written about the agreement I signed stating that, as an NSC employee, I will not use a cell phone – either handheld or hands-free – while behind the wheel. I’ve also admitted my initial reluctance to sign the agreement, and shared how I soon came to realize that honoring my commitment to drive “cell phone-free” is one of the most important things I’ve ever done for my safety and the safety of others on the road. If you’ve been considering a policy banning cell phone use for your organization’s workforce – and the council understands that it’s a very tough sell – visit nsc.org for information and a toolkit that can help you get started. The theme of this year’s National Work Zone Awareness Week sums it up nicely: “We’re All in This Together.”

The opinions expressed in “Editor’s Note” do not necessarily reflect those of the National Safety Council or affiliated local Chapters.

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