To curb the speeding that turns hundreds of roadway work zones into crash sites each year, Federal and State officials are ramping up enforcement of posted speed limits in work zones this week – with the backing of a variety of construction-industry trade groups, including the American Road & Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA) and the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC).

“Safety on Maryland roads is our number- one priority,” said that state’s Governor Robert L. Ehrlich, Jr. “In 2003 alone, 13 people died in work zone crashes in Maryland. Deaths like these are preventable. When traveling through a work zone, remember to slow down, pay attention, and remember 90% of all crashes are preventable.”

Each year, according to the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), more than 1,000 people are killed across the country in work zone crashes, and another 40,000 are injured. Four out of five people killed in work zones are drivers and passengers.

“Work zones are simply more hazardous than roads without construction, and that’s why lower speed limits are posted -- to buy you time to avoid becoming a statistic,” said Jack Lettiere, president of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO).

This year, many states are boosting enforcement in work zones to discourage speeding. Several states will warn drivers of work-zone speed enforcement with public service announcements advising motorists in work zones to “Slow Down, or Pay Up,” and ARTBA’s Chairman Rich Wagman – himself head of a highway construction company – said this effort couldn’t come soon enough.

“Imagine if your work desk was four feet from vehicles moving 65 mph or more,” he explained. “My employees face these conditions every day.”