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First Maryland work zone safety group meeting held since I-695 crash that killed six workers

First Maryland work zone safety group meeting to be held after I-695 crash kills 6 workers
First Maryland work zone safety group meeting to be held after I-695 crash kills 6 workers 01:39

BALTIMORE -- A new state group is meeting for the first time Thursday to go over safety on Maryland roads.

Gov. Wes Moore's Work Zone Safety work group is particularly looking at construction work zones on highways. They've been the site of terrible, even deadly crashes this year.

Lieutenant Gov. Aruna Miller will be chairing the new group, which was formed in April in response to a tragic crash on I-695 that killed six construction workers.

"I know how dangerous it is for the men and women who work in these areas," Lt. Gov. Miller said.

It happened in March when a driver crashed into a work zone. Investigators determined speed was a factor.

Since then, Miller says there have been at least 145 more crashes on these sites. 

In Thursday's first meeting, they outlined goals for the group. But the aim is to improve safety in work zones.

Lt. Governor Miller took in the sites of a mock work safety zone at the State Highway Administration Headquarters looking for ways to slow drivers down and protect workers on our highways.

"We're bring in experts from every different industry to share their insights their ideas, best management practices," Lt. Gov. Miller said. "Look, Governor Moore and I believe those closest to the challenge are closest to the solution."

 During a news conference on Memorial Day traffic Miller, who has an extensive background as a transportation engineer, gave an idea of what could come out of this group.

"Some of it could be having greater training for construction crews, some of it could be strengthening our laws against aggressive, impaired drivers," she said. "So there's a whole host of things that we could be doing. And a lot of it will also be educating motorists, right?"

Various contributors added to the conversation on Thursday, from roadside workers to inspectors to highway administration officials.

A big focal point of the work group was centered on driver behavior. 

"Making sure that folks understand what a work zone even is," said MVA Administrator Chrissy Nizer. "We had that conversation, not only our newer drivers, but folks who have been on the road for years. Do you know what to expect when you're coming up on a work zone.  As they're setting out the cones, they feel like that's the time they're really at risk."

And that risk can sometimes be deadly  as it was in late March on I-695 where speeding caused a crash that killed six highway workers. 

Officials believe more work zone education for drivers among other things are need to get across their message of safety and implementable solutions. 

"We have to make sure construction workers are protected maybe the gear needs to be better maybe the signage you know for drivers that's there," Lt. Gov. Miller said. "They're coming to work zones. They know that they're in a work zone, exactly what they need to do. 

"We're looking for all kinds of creative ideas to put that message in a different perspective," Nizer added. "Those folks are working there, some folks go to an office, but that's their work place." 

The work group plans to have recommendations by the end of the year to submit to the governor's office. 

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