Alabama AGC and longtime members Johnny and Kathy Walton graced the cover of the July/August 2022 issue of AGC Magazine, a national publication of AGC.
For the past 20 years, the Alabama AGC Mobile Chapter has participated in National Work Zone Awareness Week, which encourages safe driving practices in road work zones.
“Renewed interest in the importance of getting our message across […] started in earnest when Marshall Walton was killed by a distracted driver in 2015,” said Mobile Section Manager Charlotte Kopf.
“Marshall was the son of one of our longtime members – Johnny and Kathy Walton of John G. Walton Construction Co. Inc. – and had been involved with AGC his entire life. He was only 25 and was the future of Johnny’s business.”
The tragic incident happened in 2015 when a distracted driver crashed into Walton’s work area, killing him instantly. The driver apparently never slowed down. Due to a change in Alabama’s driving homicide law the previous year, the driver suffered no consequences, not even a point on his driver’s license.
A local bridge being built by Walton’s company, not far from the crash site, was recently dedicated in their son’s name: the Marshall James Walton Memorial Bridge. However, the most significant result of the Waltons’ efforts is legislative.
In tandem with the Alabama AGC, their local legislators, and the Association of District Attorneys, Johnny and Kathy have taken it upon themselves to pursue changes regarding Alabama’s driving homicide law.
Signed into law by Governor Kay Ivey in 2017, the Marshall J. Walton Highway Safety Act reinstated that similar cases of driving homicide carry a one to nine year sentence.
The importance of work area safety is increasing as technology becomes more ubiquitous. With the end of the pandemic over the past year, incidents like these have seen an increase in frequency, with the incidence rate rising from 60% in 2021 to 64% in 2022, according to the results of a study conducted. by AGC of America and their survey partner, HCSS.
Additionally, an overwhelming 97% of respondents report that roadwork zones are more dangerous than they were a year ago. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are more than 15,000 injuries and 100 deaths among highway and street construction workers each year.
When Walton was killed in 2015, no one could have known how much good his parents would bring to the tragedy. Their son’s story allows him to continue living in the field he loved and save lives by preventing others from losing their loved ones to distracted driving.