DelDOT encourages motorists to ‘drive like you work here’

Delaware Governor John Carney, DelDOT Secretary Jennifer Cohan and other local leaders gather around DelDOT’s mascot Wally to celebrate National Work Zone Safety Awareness Week Thursday in Milford. (Delaware State News/Jennifer Antonik)

MILFORD — Drivers and transportation officials across the nation are celebrating National Work Zone Safety Awareness Week with a familiar twist.

Delaware’s Department of Transportation, joined by some of their key partners, held a safety awareness event in Milford Thursday with DelDOT Secretary Jennifer Cohan, Gov. John Carney other state and local leaders to highlight the importance of work zone safety.

“As you know, anybody who’s traveling through Delaware or to work this morning has probably driven through one of our work zones. We are really moving transportation infrastructure forward in this state, so work zone safety is extremely important to us,” MS. Cohan said.

This year’s federally funded national work zone safety awareness campaign, “Drive like you work here,” highlights the employees who work to keep roadways safe, including those in Delaware. DelDOT teamed the campaign with a slogan of their own – “Slow down. We have families, too.”

Signs reading “Brake for family,” “Drive like your mom works here” and “We’re in this together,” were unveiled at the event, featuring pictures of DelDOT employees with their family members.

“There’s two things that each of these team members — they get that twinkle in their eye, smile on their face, their body language starts to change when you talk about — and those two things are their job and their family,” said Justin Halama, who has been shadowing Ms. Cohan at DelDOT, before introducing Gov. Carney.

“And they’re out there and they’re working long shifts. They’re in rain, snow, heat, to get the job done. So, we take this week to honor, to thank them, and we take this time to show appreciation for what they do and awareness that they are trying to get home to their families, too,”

The governor began his own remarks by thanking DelDOT employees and others who work to make roadways safer throughout the state.

Justin Halama introduced Gov. John Carney Thursday morning during DelDOT’s National Work Zone Safety Awareness Week event held in Milford. Sgt. Bratz of the Delaware State Police and DelDOT Secretary Jennifer Cohan look on. (Delaware State News/Jennifer Antonik)

He explained to the crowd how the transition from winter to spring in Delaware also indicates a different kind of transition for local travelers.

“… And then you get out on the highway and you can’t get there from here without going through a construction zone and the orange cones come out,” he said. “And it’s so incredibly important that those construction projects get done and they start when the weather gets nice and spring is breaking. It’s just so incredibly important that they get the work done safely at the end of the day.”

Although work zone-related crashes have decreased over the last year in the first state, according to Sgt. Richard Bratz of the Delaware State Police, he said drivers need to remain cautious in work zones. Last year, Delaware had 180 crashes at work zone sites that involved property only, compared to 233 crashes in 2017. Thirty-nine personal injury-related crashes and five fatal crashes occurred during the year at work zone sites, according to DelDOT.

Inattentive, distracted and tired drivers, along with those following other vehicles too closely or changing lanes improperly, are among the top reasons those work zone crashes occur, Sgt. Bratz explained.

“As a first responder, I’ve seen firsthand how crashes can have a horrible and devastating impact on families. Work zones are very busy and require a lot of moving parts, demanding both hands on the wheel, both eyes on the road and your full attention,” Sgt. Bratz said. “Rest assured that law enforcement will do their part educating motorists and enforcing the law to ensure everyone goes home safe and goes home to their family.”

Sgt. Bratz said he hopes the “Drive like you work here” campaign reminds drivers that employees seen working on Delaware roadways are a part of the statewide community.

“I hope they are reminded that that person right there is a fellow community member. I think we owe them that amount of respect,” he said, adding that those same employees are helping to make Delaware a better place each time they work on a local roadway.

During the work zone safety awareness event, AAA Mid-Atlantic Public and Government Affairs Manager Ken Grant offered three pieces of advice to Delaware drivers.

• Plan ahead. DelDOT construction projects can be found online at

• Practice patience.

• “Slow down, take your time and remember lives are at stake,” he said.

“The ladies and gentlemen who are here today who work on our roadways who make sure that these roads are not only built but maintained and up to standard are the true heroes of our transportation system and need to be treated as such,” Mr. Grant said.

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