Work zone victim’s daughter urges motorists to drive responsibly
VDOT hosts National Work Zone Awareness Week official kickoff in Hampton, Va.
Cameron Hutt talked about her father during the National Work Zone Awareness Week national kickoff event this afternoon but much of what she shared she learned secondhand.
Cameron’s father, Chris Hutt, was killed in a work zone incident when she was in kindergarten.
Before his death at age 33, he taught her how to swim, how to tie her shoelaces and her right from her left.
He was a loving father and a good provider but he didn’t get to see the birth of his youngest child or watch the other two grow up because of what Cameron called “the carelessness of two people.”
Chris Hutt was installing a traffic sign in Tennessee when he was hit as the drivers’ vehicles collided.
“We can and must do more for people like my father,” Cameron, who graduates from college next month, said in addressing the officials gathered in Hampton, Va., for the national kickoff event for National Work Zone Awareness Week (NWZAW).
The event overlooked the Hampton Roads Bridge Tunnel Project, the largest highway construction project in Virginia’s history.
NWZAW is an annual event held each spring as the roadway construction season begins. The purpose is to bring attention to the importance of work zone safety and the risks—not only for roadway workers but also for motorists and their passengers. Statistics show the majority of people killed in work zone incidents are motorists and the people in their vehicles.
This year’s NWZAW national kickoff was hosted by the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT), which held its first work zone awareness event in 1997 and then approached ATSSA about creating a national campaign, which was begun in 2000.
Christopher Hall, the Hampton Roads District Engineer for VDOT, noted that the event is not only observed by all 50 states now but also by authorities in Canada and Puerto Rico.
This year’s theme is “Work Zones are a Sign to Slow Down,” and each speaker at today’s event emphasized that point.
Thomas Nelson, Virginia Division Administrator for the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), introduced Deputy Administrator Stephanie Pollack who was not available to attend the event in person. She appeared via video and noted that for many people, a work zone is considered an inconvenience, but she repeated this year’s slogan in urging drivers to “please think of work zones as a sign to slow down and drive extra safely.”
Virginia State Police Col. Gary Settle said that the state police and VDOT are a team regarding work zone safety but he added that "our partnership extends to the motoriing public." He noted that 2021 saw an increase in speed-related crashes and reminded people of the fine of up to $500 for speeding in a work zone.
Settle urged people to slow their vehicles, remain alert behind the wheel, ignore their phones and be on the lookout for workers.
The event included a display of 28 orange cones, which Virginia Secretary of Transportation Shep Miller said represented the people killed in Virginia work zones in 2021. Two were workers. The other 26 were people in vehicles.
“We need to remember those are humans behind those barrels,” Miller said.
NWZAW also includes:
- April 11 – Work Zone Safety Training Day in which companies are encouraged to pause during the workday for safety demonstrations, discussions about safety policies and other prevention steps to protect people in work zones.
- April 13 – Go Orange Day when everyone is encouraged to wear orange to show support for work zone safety and the families of victims who have lost their lives in work zones. Photos can be posted on social media with #NWZAW and #Orange4Safety.
- April 14 – Social media storm in which organizations, companies, agencies and individuals are encouraged to share messages and use hashtags #NWZAW and #WorkZoneSafety throughout social media between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. EDT.
- April 15 – Moment of Silence. People are encouraged to take part in this new event for 2022 to remember the people who lost their lives in a work zone incident.
Today’s event included a moment of silence for all of the people killed in work zone incidents.
“Think of [Cameron’s] father. Think of her family. Think of the 7,500 VDOT workers next time you see a work zone,” Hall said.