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Photos by Chad Ryan | The Journal Gazette
Sign posts with safety vests and hardhats, representing the eight lives lost along Indiana highways last year, were temporarily posted near mile marker 321 on Interstate 69 for Work Zone Awareness Week.

Stark safety reminder

Motorists traveling Interstate 69 just north of Fort Wayne likely caught this glimpse of a stark and powerful reminder to pay more attention when they see orange signs designating a road-project work zone.

Memorials featuring eight neon-yellow reflective safety vests mounted on tall poles topped by hardhats were installed in the highway median at a dozen locations throughout Indiana for National Work Zone Awareness Week. The memorials honor the lives of the eight construction workers killed last year working on Indiana Department of Transportation projects. The displays were sponsored by the Indiana Chapter of the American Traffic Safety Service Association and installed by member businesses.

“We installed a couple of them. They are meant to draw attention to the traveling public that the work zones are our workplace,” said Amber Ahlersmeyer, general manager of Indianapolis-based Gridlock Traffic Systems Inc. “The work zone is a very hazardous place if people are not following the posted speed limits. People just need to understand that lives are lost by distracted drivers.”

Soon the memorials will be removed. But drivers need to remember those workers who lost their lives, as well as those working now, and drive more carefully through construction zones.