By Sue ReissWe all see the highway fatality statistics, and following a seven-year decline, they rose 5% in 2012, to 36,200 traffic fatalities, which included over 700 work zone deaths that year. Those numbers are more than just statistics. Each one of those numbers represents a person who left behind parents, siblings, aunts, uncles and friends who were devastated by their loss.
Those victims will never walk their daughters down the aisle, or meet their grandchildren. The tragedy of these lost lives is unspeakable. Those that are lost in work zone accidents touch each of us personally because they were part of our industry and by extension, our lives. The deaths of those men, women and children break our hearts every time a work zone fatality becomes public, even if we didn’t know them personally. They were a part of our collective family, and each loss is heartbreaking.
The ATSS Foundation is aligned with ATSSA in their Toward Zero Deaths mantra. As such, our focus for 2014 and beyond is threefold. Toward Zero Deaths, Toward Zero Scholarships, Toward Zero Names of the Foundation’s National Work Zone Memorial Wall.
The American Traffic Safety Services Foundation helps the families of those lost by providing scholarships to the children and/or remaining spouses of those deceased, or even permanently disabled workers. This year, the Foundation Board elected to raise the amount of our scholarships so that their value is even more meaningful to their recipients. I feel blessed to have met a number of those children in person, and have spoken to even more of the recipients and applicants on the phone. In addition to the emotional loss of their loved ones, they are often left with a financial loss that potentially eliminates their hopes and dreams of a college degree. The scholarships that the Foundation provides these surviving children are often desperately needed in order for them to attend college. Without them, I have been told many times, college might have been out of their reach.
The Memorial Wall’s names are those that have been lost “between the signs,” whether DOT personnel, workers, motorists or even pedestrians. The Foundation struggles to find the names of those people, since there does not exist a source for that information, along with the names of their families, who need to give permission for their names to be added to the Memorial. We are always looking for help from anyone that may have knowledge to share in regards to those names.
For more information, please visit the ATSSA Foundation website at http://www.atssa.com/TheFoundation.aspx.
Sue Reiss is the ATSSA Foundation Board President