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Wall memorializes Illinois workers killed in work zone crashes

The 1,363 people whose names are listed on the National Work Zone Memorial Wall include children, police officers, pedestrians and motorists who died in work zone auto accidents throughout the country. The majority of the names, though, belong to deceased construction workers.

The wall was unveiled earlier this week at the Illinois State Fair, which will run through Aug. 17, and safety officials and advocates hope the display will remind drivers to slow down and pay attention in work zones. Already this year, 15 people have died in work zone crashes in Illinois. In all of 2012, there were 19 such fatalities in our state, and it is hoped that no more construction zone deaths occur this year.

One worker who was badly injured last year in a work zone crash recently learned that he may never again walk normally. He was in attendance at the wall unveiling. He said he spent three months in a hospital after the accident, which happened when a vehicle traveling at a high rate of speed slammed directly into his back.

His boss was killed in the crash, and two other workers were injured. Now the man is active in the American Traffic Safety Association, which advocates for improved safety in work zones.

According to an engineer with the Illinois Department of Transportation, between 20 and 30 people die annually in Illinois work zone accidents, and between 5,000 and 7,000 crashes happen each year in these zones. The engineer pointed to speeding and distracted driving -- two forms of driver negligence -- as the main causes of crashes around road construction sites.

If Illinois residents want to learn more about what to do after a work-related accident, our Chicago construction injury site may prove helpful.

Source:, "'Wall unveiling used to promote work zone safety," Chris Detto, Aug. 12, 2013

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