Numbers are more than just statistics

By Sue Reiss
         We 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

Sue Reiss is the ATSSA Foundation Board President


  1. Steve Swartz4/11/2014

    Thanks to ATSSA and the ATSSA Foundation for raising awareness of the importance of work zone safety. It's difficult for the general public sometimes to relate to the cold statistics of work zone crashes. But throuh the efforts of ATSSA and the Foundation, the workers, families and communities of those impacted by the crashes come into better focus and make it easier for drivers to understand why work zone safety matters so much. Thank you also for establishing a scholarship fund for the families of the deceased workers. They deserve it.

  2. Anonymous4/11/2014

    That is so nice that the ATSSA Foundation does so many things to promote work zone safety, including the scharships for children of workers who have been killed in work zones.

  3. We owe a debt of gratitude to ATSSA and its members for they are the ones on the front lines maintaining many of our state’s and nation’s work zones. We’ve grown accustomed to good roads in Kansas and should be thankful for that alone. It’s not like war, no one should have to die because someone was inconvenienced or could not take the time to be extra careful while workers were keeping our roads in good shape. No one ever intends for that to happen and it should not. Toward Zero Deaths is where we want to go, I could not pick any other number. Thanks to Foundation for their efforts.

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