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IRTBA Raises Awareness for Safer Construction Work Zones

CHICAGO, IL — The Illinois Road and Transportation Builders Association (IRTBA) was among the organizations present at a recent press conference to raise awareness and advocate for safer work zones at the start of this construction season. IRTBA and agency partners called on motorists to obey work zone laws for speeding, to move over and slow down for vehicles with emergency lights on and to follow the law banning the use of mobile devices while driving in work zones.

"Innocent lives are lost due to people disobeying the laws. Stop and think about what it would be like to be the person on the other side of the barrels or barrier wall. Or if it was your loved one in the work zone, or in the I-HELP truck, or police cruiser," said IRTBA Chairman Mark Barkowski. Barkowski is also Senior Executive Vice President of F.H. Paschen, a commercial construction and contracting company based in Chicago.

"Our members continue to use preventative measures to make the work zone as safe as possible for workers and the motoring public. Some contractors log their near misses and collaborate with state agencies like the Tollway and IDOT to track the data from those close calls to help make informed decisions about safety and indicate hot spots on projects," said IRTBA President & CEO Mike Sturino. "This logging and information sharing is done so the industry can ACT out on the jobsite — act with trooper presence or logistics changes before there is an accident. But there is one element to the equation contractors can’t always control, and that’s where the motoring public comes in.”

"The high rates of speed and close proximity to workers by drivers are the biggest danger in the work zone, and that's closely followed by distracted drivers. Respecting the lowered speed limits, moving over and restricting any phone use — including hands-free — is particularly important in work zones,” Barkowski said. “Large equipment is entering in and out of the job site at a slower rate of speed, the width of normal traffic lanes tends to be smaller, and detours, lane changes and uneven pavement surfaces are common and require focus.”

IRTBA is dedicated to eliminating risky and distracted driving behaviors on Illinois roads by hosting a Distracted Driving webinar, which helped members educate their employees, family and friends about the dangers of distracted driving. To increase awareness and public education on this topic, the association has a recorded version available to the public on its website, which can be accessed at

National Work Zone Safety Awareness Week occurs every year to raise awareness about hazards and the need for the use of extra caution in work zone areas. IRTBA, along with the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT), Illinois Tollway and other industry partners banned together and held events throughout the state and hosted social media campaigns to demonstrate to motorists the need to follow these laws, which will lead to a safer Illinois.

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