Utica, NY (WIBX) - They are the 'orange blur' you see as you pass through a construction zone.

This week is National Work Zone Safety Awareness Week and New York State Department of Transportation is reminding motorists that being alert and slowing down can be the difference between life and death for drivers, their passengers and road construction crews.

No New York State highway workers were killed in work zones in 2010. But, in 2009, Gary Farrell from Holland Patent, a local DOT traffic flagger, was struck and killed by a vehicle while working on State Route 28 in the town of Forestport; and in 2008, NYSDOT highway maintenance supervisor Kevin Foryth was struck and killed on State Route 182 in Niagra County.

Farrell's wife, Michelle, attended today's safety week announcement on Route 12 at the New Hartford-Utica border saying her husband didn't think such a terrible tragedy would happen to him.

"He had said before that cars had 'come close', and you think they're going slow, so you think nothing can happen until it happens," Michelle Farrell said.

The NYDOT offers these ten tips for safe driving in a construction work zone:

  • Expect the unexpected
  • Slow down! Be alert! Pay attention to the signs!
  • A flagger has the same authority as a regulatory sign
  • Merge as soon as possible
  • Slow down when signs tell you to
  • Leave two-seconds of braking distance between you and the car in front of you
  • Keep a safe distance between you vehicle and traffic barriers, workers and equipment
  • Observe posted work zone signs until you seen one that says you've left the work zone
  • Plan ahead and try an alternate route

New York State Police Lt. Philip Rougeux says law enforcement will be keeping an eye out for drivers who are speeding, talking on a cell phone, and other forms of aggressive or distracted driving.

The fines and points for speeding in a work zone are doubled in New York State.