06/30/17 — NC DOT honors its fallen workers

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NC DOT honors its fallen workers

By Staff Reports
Published in News on June 30, 2017 6:57 AM

For Millie Bailey, the state's work zone safety program is more than just a slogan.

Her husband, Grey, a state Department of Transportation employee, died in March 23, 2015, after being struck by a car while working along U.S. 70 West near Capps Bridge Road.

Bailey was 35 and left behind his wife and young twin daughters.

Wednesday, Mrs. Bailey, helped the state pay tribute to the 108 DOT employees who have died while working.

The ceremony dedicated a plaque in their honor at the Interstate 85 North Davidson County rest area near Thomasville.

"This plaque allows everyone to see the sacrifice NCDOT workers and their families make on a daily basis," Mrs. Bailey said. "Please honor the lives lost by driving like lives ahead are in your hands because they are."

Ironically, Bailey's death occurred during what had been proclaimed as National Work Zone Safety Awareness Week .

In December, 2016, a section of U.S. 70 West as dedicated as Grey Bailey Highway.

At the Wednesday ceremony, DOT Chief Engineer Mike Holder recognized the Bailey family, along with the family of David Cook, who died in the fall of 2012 when he was struck by a driver while he was cutting trees in Watauga County.

"Pay attention in work zones, as these workers have families that are waiting for them at home. Respect them and honor their lives," said his widow, Ruth Cook.

"This memorial and the others that will be installed across the state will serve as a visible tribute to our fallen employees, and a reminder that the public plays a vital role in our workers' safety," Holder said.

Eventually, plaques paying tribute to the workers will be in place at all 61 rest areas across the state.

Statistics don't lie, DOT officials said.

In 2016:

* Across North Carolina, there were 5,831 work zone crashes.

* As a result of motor vehicle crashes, 3,095 people were injured in construction, utility and maintenance work zones across the state.

* Twenty-six people-- 24 travelers and two workers -- died in state work zones.

* Speeding and distracted driving accounted for more than 50 percent of all work zone crashes in the state.

* Eighty-eight percent of reported work zone crashes in North Carolina occurred during dry road conditions.

* More than 75 percent of reported work zone crashes occurred during daylight hours.

So what can drivers do?

* Pay close attention to signs and work zone flaggers.

* Turn on your headlights so workers and other motorists can see you.

* Obey the posted speed limits in and around a work zone.

* Do not change lanes in a work zone.

* Minimize distractions: Avoid changing radio stations and using mobile phones while driving in a work zone.

To learn more about work zone safety in North Carolina, visit the DOT Work Zone Safety Program's website, www.ncdot.gov/programs/workzonesafety.