A new Oklahoma law requires teen drivers to complete a work zone safety and first responder safety course before applying for their intermediate driver license.
“We want teenagers who are learning to drive to have the added benefit of work zone safety education before they ever encounter one for the first time behind the wheel of a vehicle,” said Tim Gatz, Oklahoma secretary of transportation, in a statement. “Work zones require all drivers to be very focused by putting away all distractions to ensure that they, other motorists, and our workers all stay safe.”
In Oklahoma, 91 motorists have been killed in work zone crashes on state highways and turnpikes in the past five years. Some 102 drivers under the age of 20 have been severely injured in work zone crashes in the past five years, and 10 young motorists died in that same time frame.
The free Oklahoma Work Zone Safe and First Responder Safety online education course was created by Tom Robins for the Oklahoma DOT and in partnership with the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority, Association of Oklahoma General Contractors, Oklahoma Highway Patrol, and the Oklahoma Highway Safety Office.
The program teaches teens about work zone and first responder safety and introduces them to the faces behind the flag and flashing lights. In total, ODOT and OTA have lost 72 employees combined in the line of duty in their history, which is more than any other state agency other than the military.
“We have filled our roads with ‘digitally drunk’ drivers,” Robins said. “This program is designed to teach young drivers how their driving can impact themselves and others forever.”
Although Work Zone Safe is offered to students across the nation as of this year, Oklahoma is the first state to require teen drivers to take the course before applying for their license.
“Everyone deserves to come home safe every day. When it comes to work zones and sharing the road with first responders safely, drivers need to have eyes up, phones down, buckle up and slow down,” Robins said.
In addition to the online course, Work Zone Safe offers an in-person, hands-on education in partnership with ODOT, OTA and Oklahoma Challenge Teen Traffic Safety Program among others. This traveling work zone safety program lets students get an inside look at work zones and lets them hear directly from highway workers on what they should be doing when driving through work zones to make it home safely every time. Since the program’s inception in 2021, Work Zone Safe has brought hands-on work zone driver safety to more than 18,000 Oklahoma teen drivers.
Source: Oklahoma Department of Transportation