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Event honors Colorado employees who died in work zone accidents

Workers from the Colorado Department of Transportation convened this week to honor their coworkers who died on the job during the past year. Preliminary numbers indicate that 10 people were killed in work zones in 2011, and 96 other people were injured. A total of 830 crashes happened in Colorado work zones during the past year and the problem continues to grow, according to agency officials.

While the families who attended the ceremony may have received Colorado death benefits after their loved ones were killed on the job, they may have been wondering what more can be done to protect Department of Transportation workers from dangerous drivers. Ultimately, it is their employer's responsibility, in this case the state's, to keep workers safe. One of the men in attendance's father was killed in 2004 after an 11-year career with the Department. He was performing maintenance on a stretch of road when a driver ran over him and another worker. Both of the Department employees died.

This year marks the eighth ceremony that has been put on by the Department. The event coincides with National Work Zone Awareness Week, which is designed to spread awareness about the number of people who are injured and killed in work-zone crashes. In all, the state of Colorado has lost 58 Department employees in the line of duty since 1929, according to records.

Officials say that most of the accidents in work zones could be prevented if drivers would just choose to put down their electronic devices and slow down. Highway workers and patrol officers need extra room to work and motorists need to be aware of their surroundings, they said. Though many of the serious accidents and fatalities could be avoided by more aware drivers, it is also important that the state finds ways to protect their employees from even the most unreliable of drivers.

Source: Denver Post, "Colorado remembers highway workers killed by errant drivers," April 25, 2012

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