Illinois Transportation Secretary Ann L. Schneider, joined by the Illinois State Police and the American Traffic Safety Services Association at the Illinois Department of Transportation's Region 1 Headquarters, unveiled the National Work Zone Memorial Wall, a touring memorial that serves as a living tribute to those who lost their lives in work zones. Attending the event was the family of IDOT employee Ryan Nichols, who was killed one year ago today while performing his duties in a work zone and whose name was added to the wall this spring.
"The National Work Zone Memorial Wall is a chilling reminder of the life-or-death consequences that we all face in work zones. Even though we have made great strides improving the safety of work zones and our roadways overall, today we are sadly reminded that we still have a ways to go. We will not stop until we totally eliminate work zone deaths because even one fatality is one too many," said Secretary Schneider. "We are honored that the family of Ryan Nichols would join us on this very difficult day to help us call attention to this critical issue."
"The Illinois State Police is committed to making the roads safer for everyone, including workers and emergency personnel in and around work zones," said Illinois State Police Commander Roy Sanji. "Motorists must slow down and remain alert when traveling though construction zones to help avoid tragedies and potential fatalities."
Created by the American Traffic Safety Services Association, the National Work Zone Memorial Wall debuted in 2002 to honor the memory of the men, women and children who died in work zones across the nation. The memorial travels to communities throughout the country, raising the public's awareness to the need to respect safety in work zones. The wall will be on display at IDOT's Region 1 headquarters in Schaumburg through Friday.
An IDOT employee since 2002, Ryan Nichols, 34, was performing his duties as a Bureau of Construction inspector at a job site on U.S. 14 in Woodstock when he was fatally struck. He left behind a wife and three young children. His passing made a deep impact on his co-workers.
Illinois averages more than 7,000 motor crashes in work zones every year. Approximately 20 to 30 people die in work zones annually, with at least one fatality involving a worker. In 2011, 24 people died in work zones - 21 drivers and passengers in vehicles, one pedestrian and two workers.
Under Secretary Schneider, IDOT is focused on reducing fatalities on the state's roadways and, in particular, in work zones. As part of the "Driving Zero Fatalities to a Reality" campaign, IDOT earlier this month launched "Embrace the Orange" a new website that encourages motorists to sign a work zone safety pledge and reminds the public that talking on cell phones or using any hand-held device while driving through work zones is illegal.