This year’s National Work Zone Awareness Week (NWZAW) is taking place April 26-30. The theme is Drive Safe. Work Safe. Save Lives.
NWZAW is a nation-wide event sponsored by partnerships between state departments of transportation (DOT), national road safety organizations, government agencies, private companies, and individuals.
Work zones play a critical role in maintaining and upgrading 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, as seen from National Highway Administration (FHWA) data, work zone-related changes in traffic patterns and rights of way, combined with the presence of workers, and the frequent movement of work vehicles results in an increased incidence of crashes, injuries, and fatalities.
What are the goals of NWZAW?
This annual spring campaign encourages safe driving through roadway work zones. The goals of NWZAW include:
- Highlighting the deadly dangers of inattention at roadway work areas and raising awareness for the need for more caution when driving through work zones to decrease fatalities and injuries.
- Promoting among individuals in the private sector, industry, and roadway workers the value of training and the importance of implementing best practices in regard to work zone safety.
- Reaching out to both roadway workers and contractors to communicate the possible effects of motorists’ behavior in response to traffic delays caused by work zones, and advise on what steps might possibly be taken to lessen the impact of negative motorist behavior on work zone safety.
What can you do?
To protect road workers and all road users, tips from the FHWA for traveling safely through work zones include:
- 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 maneuver you safely through the work zone.
- Watch for workers and all road users: In 2019, 135 workers were killed in highway work zones and 140 pedestrians and bicyclists lost their lives in work zone crashes.
- Watch for sudden stops: Work zone activity often leads to congestion, delays, and traffic back-ups. In 2019, nearly one-quarter of all fatal work zone crashes involved rear-end collisions.
- Slow down: Speeding can lead to crashes with other vehicles and with road workers. Make sure to obey posted work zone speed limits and keep a safe distance from the vehicle ahead of you. Speed was a contributing factor in over 31 percent of 2019 fatal work zone crashes.
For additional information on National Work Zone Awareness Week, or for ideas on how you and your company can support this event, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
This blog was written by Beth Graham, our Associate Director of Quality, Research, and Training who has been with Safety Partners Inc. for the last 11 years.