BATON ROUGE, La (NBC33) — Debra Lemoine always felt nervous when her husband, Robert, was on the job.
“It was always a worry,” she says.
However, she never expected the call that changed her life forever. “I got a phone call from his mother. She worked at a bank in town and she told me he had been in an accident.”
Robert had been doing a road survey for DOTD when a driver came speeding around a curve and hit him. He died two days later at 33.
“It couldn’t be true,” Lemoine says. “He was such a great person. I just thought it couldn’t be true.”
That was 23 years ago, and not a day goes by that Debra doesn’t miss him. “ He would help anyone, give them the shirt off his back.”
Now, she wants drivers to slow down and pay attention. “People don’t realize,” she explains. “They don’t realize what goes on the job, on the road, not at all.”
That’s what these next few days, declared Work Zone Awareness Week by Governor Bobby Jindal, are all about.
“It’s important for the drivers to put themselves in the shoes of the construction workers,” says DOTD Secretary Sherri LaBas.
DOTD set up 576 cones on their front lawn to remember the men and women who were killed in work zones across the country in 2010. Fifteen of those cones represent people from Louisiana. Five of them were from right here in Baton Rouge.
“We’re working hard to reduce the number of fatalities on our roadways, but we need the public’s help,” LeBas says.
That means slowing down, staying off cell phones, and paying attention in construction areas. Sometimes, that’s all it takes to save a life.
“It could be one of your family members out there and you would want somebody to slow down for them,” says Lemoine.
LeBas says they’ve worked hard over the last several years to increase safety on the roads. They tell us fatalities dropped 30% between 2007 and 2010.