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National Work Zone Awareness

National Work Zone Awareness week is the week of April 26th through 30th. Work zones play a critical role in the preservation and enhancement of our nation's roadways. They separate construction and maintenance activities from traffic, providing a safe route for all road users (motorists, pedestrians, and bicyclists) and a safe area for workers. However, work zone-related changes in traffic patterns and rights of way, combined with the presence of workers, and the frequent movement of work vehicles, may lead to crashes, injuries, and fatalities. Through National Work Zone Awareness Week, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and its partners hope to bring attention to the critical issue of road user and worker safety in and around work zones. 

How can road users help?

  1. Know before you go. Before heading out, check for the latest traffic conditions along your route. With information on active work zones, you can change your trip, possibly avoiding work zones altogether.
  2. Stay alert and obey the roadway. Be aware of all activity occurring around you, including paying attention to other drivers and road users. Work zones change daily; pay attention so you can anticipate new traffic patterns. Remember, signs cones, barrels, and flaggers are there to help you maneuver safely through the work zone.
  3. Watch for workers. 135 workers were killed in highway work zones in 2019. Workers should be wearing hi-vis apparel and staying out of oncoming traffic areas. 
  4. Watch for sudden stops. Work zone activity often leads to congestion, delays, and traffic queues. Be alert and watch or sudden stops. In 2019, nearly one quarter of all fatal work zone crashes involved rear-end collisions.
  5. Slow down. Speeding can lead to crashes with other vehicles and with field workers. Make sure to obey posted work zone speed limits and keep a safe distance from the vehicle ahead of you.
  6. Use caution around large vehicles. Large vehicles have a slower reaction time, so refrain from making sudden lane changes in front of trucks or buses that are trying to slow down.
  7. Keep everyone safe. Be respectful of workers, fellow drivers, and all road users. We need everyone to work together to ensure we all stay safe.

How can road workers stay safe?

  1. Wear Hi-Vis apparel. This can reduce the likelihood of injury by highlighting workers against their environmental background. The appropriate apparel should be chosen so that individuals' shapes are clearly defined.
  2. Incorporate barricades, cones, and drums. These create an instant barrier between road users and workers. They alert the road users that there is construction and to stay away from that work zone.
  3. Have flaggers with the correct flagger safety equipment. Flaggers can guide road users throughout the work zone so that they know when and where to go safely. They need to be in hi-vis apparel and use the right equipment to correctly guide the road users.
  4. Utilize parking and pedestrian safety equipment. In some cases, work zones need this type of equipment to keep pedestrians safe from road users and the work zones.
  5. Add barricade and cone accessories. Up your safety game with extra alerts for road users including barricade tape, warning chains, caution/danger tape, barricade lights, sign stands, cone holders, and more.
  6. Make sure your employees are properly trained.

Total work zone fatalities in 2018: 727

Total work zone fatalities in 2019: 842

Beyond concerns for the safety of employees, crashes are also costly to employers.

  • Work related crashes cost employers $25 billion in 2013
    • $65,000 per nonfatal injury
    • $671,000 per death
  • All employers face ongoing liability, insurance, productivity and absenteeism costs.

Work zone safety is everybody's responsibility and work zone incidents impact everyone because ultimately, drivers, passengers, and construction workers are all at risk. Road users driving habits can directly help - or harm, just as much as road workers safety habits can. 

Drive Safe. Work Safe. Save Lives.

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