A new campaign is encouraging drivers to avoid using their cell phones when driving on the I-395 Express Lanes.
Transurban and the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) launched the 2018 “Orange Cones. No Phones.” campaign earlier this month.
The campaign seeks to reduce distracted driving and improve safety in the I-395 Express Lanes work zone, according to a release.
“We focus on safety on the Express Lanes and in the 395 Express Lanes work zone every day,” Jennifer Aument, president of the North America business of Transurban, said in a release. “We need the help of drivers to create a safer work zone to ensure on-road construction crews and other travelers are getting where they need to go safely.”
As part of the campaign, “Orange Cones. No Phones.” signs will be placed throughout the work zone. Commuters will also be reminded to avoid distracted driving through advertisements.
The presence of Virginia State Police, which has expressed its support of the campaign, will also increase on I-395.
“As the first responders to many of these crashes, we understand the serious consequences of distracted driving,” Virginia State Police Superintendent Colonel Gary T. Settle said in a release. “Safety is our number one concern, and we are pleased to support this program to educate and increase awareness with drivers across the region to help cut down on distracted driving.”
Using a phone to talk, reading a text message, and checking a GPS or travel planning are the top three distractions that Northern Virginia drivers reported.
Distracted driving can have negative consequences, according to Virginia Secretary of Transportation Shannon Valentine.
“In 2017, distracted driving accounted for almost 25 percent of traffic fatalities,” Valentine said in a release. “In work zones alone, VDOT recorded 2,666 crashes resulting in 1,329 injuries and 12 fatalities. The lives lost were completely preventable. We must continue to engage the public about the dangers of distracted driving. The ‘Orange Cones. No Phones.’ campaign is an important component to help deliver safety on our roads and reduce incidents.”
In March, International Market Research Firm YouGov conducted a survey that focused on distracted driving.
Fifty-four percent of the survey estimated 1,000 participants said that they occasionally use their cell phones.
Nine out of 10 drivers admitted they have used a cell phone while driving, and one out of five drivers who had an accident or near accident said it was caused by cell phone use, according to survey results.
“With so many drivers on the roads around the Washington area admitting they are distracted while driving, there is a huge safety concern for everyone on the roads,” AAA Mid-Atlantic Spokesperson John Townsend said in a release. “Holding a conversation is still a distraction, and our hope is that this program will help drivers become more aware of the dangers of distracted driving, especially around work zones on our highways, and take active steps to make better choices.”
Work Expected on I-395
The Express Lanes on I-395 will extend the I-95 Express Lanes eight miles north to the Washington, D.C., line.
They are expected to open in fall 2019.
As improvements are being made on I-395, drivers may see construction vehicles entering and exiting the work zone. They will also lose the full shoulder on the 8-mile construction area, according to Michael McGurk from Transurban.
The work on I-395 will include storm drainage and duct bank installation on the existing HOV lanes, and the installation of south walls on I-395 between Seminary Road and Duke Street.
Officials will also begin widening the general purpose lanes between Duke Street and Edsall Road on I-395 South.
In late summer and fall, drivers can expect a traffic shift as work begins on the western shoulder.
The southbound sound wall will be installed and paving will occur on the Pentagon reservation’s full bus lane.
© Copyright 2018 What's Up Prince William. All Rights Reserved