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DOT Takes 'Nutty' Approach To Promote Work Zone Safety

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RALEIGH — Highway work zones are some of the deadliest spots on North Carolina roads. Thestate Department of Transportationis about to launch a new campaign to convince motorists to slow down in work zones.

The new campaign, which will hit the airwaves Monday morning, features fruit and nuts.

The public service announcements will have images of lighthearted bananas using cell phones and a map covering a coconut driving through a work zone. The DOT hopes people pay attention to the new approach, because many are distracted in the work zone.

"I've actually seen in the work zone a person with a Coke in one hand and a book in the other, trying to steer," says state construction engineer Steve Dewitt.

One place the workers get very close to traffic is the Interstate-540 project on Capital Boulevard. Construction workers like James Royer say they do not feel safe.

"Everyday out here, it's something different. There are so many dangers out here," he says.

There are more than 400 major work zones in North Carolina. On average, 29 people are killed in those work zones each year.

The new television ads will cost taxpayers $200,000. Royer hopes the new public awareness campaign helps, because they need some help.

"Usually at least once a week, we have an accident out here somewhere right around where we're working," he says. "A lot of times, we hear tires squealing and we see a lot of close calls."

Motorists should also realize that slowing down in a work zone will not make them late. In a two-mile-long work zone, it takes less than a minute longer to drive at 45 miles per hour than at 65 miles per hour.