Every spring, at the start of construction season, government agencies participate in offline and online events to bring national attention to the dangers construction workers face each day while repairing and maintaining our roads. Today marks the midway point of National Work Zone Awareness Week 2017.
The Federal Highway Administration, the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, and the American Traffic Safety Services Association have worked together to coordinate and sponsor this week-long occasion since 1999. Other transportation agencies have joined in since then, and some states now hold their own NWZAW events, all with the goal to encourage safe driving through work zones.
The FHWA works to promote extra caution in work zones year-round. Their Work Zone Management Program aims to “make work zones work better” by providing the transportation industry with high-quality products, tools, and information that can aid all stages of roadway upkeep, from planning and design to implementation, in order to reduce congestion and make work zones more efficient.
Yet, accidents in work zones are still more common than they should be, and tens of thousands of people are hurt each year as a result of work zone car crashes. That’s why these traffic agencies work together for one week every year to increase awareness about this serious roadway issue and hopefully saves lives.
In honor of NWZAW, we explore the problem of prevalent work zone injuries and what we can do as individuals to help keep work zone workers stay safe.
Safety Tips for Driving Through Work Zones
As our highway system ages, work zones have become a necessary and common part of Americans’ commute.
In order to complete maintenance and upgrades, traffic practitioners erect work zones on our roadways. Motorists are alerted to work zones by flashing lights, signs, barrels, or workers on the road.
These workers face serious hazards in order to do their jobs, namely the three D’s of dangerous driving: drowsiness, distraction, and drinking. And even without dangerous driving, passing through work zones is trickier than regular highway coasting, since they often mean narrower lanes and unexpected stops.
Here are some tips to navigate highway work zones:
- Do as the signs say. Merge as soon as possible and slow down to the posted speed.
- Stay on guard. As soon as you see signs of a work zone, turn up your vigilance and focus your full attention on the road. Be on the lookout for workers and moving equipment. Focus all your attention on the road and avoid distractions like fiddling with the radio, eating, or using your phone.
- Don’t tailgate. Unexpected stops are more likely in work zones and could result in a rear-end if you drive too close behind the car in front of you.
- Don’t speed! Fines are heftier for speeding in a work zone for a reason. Keep yourself and workers safe by never speeding.
- Keep to your lane. Don’t change lanes in a work zone. Ever.
- Be patient. Remember that the crew is working to improve your travel. Plan for delays and if you know work is scheduled on your regular route, take an alternate if possible.
Show You Care, Go Orange
In 2015, there were 700 fatalities from crashes in work zones, according to the Federal Highway Administration. Additionally, more than 40,000 people are injured each year as a result of motor vehicle crashes in work zones according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
As staggering as these numbers are, when they’re recounted as statistics, it’s easier to forget the bigger picture. Many times when we’re eager to get home from work or late to an appointment, we get wrapped up in our own lives and only think of work zones as an inconvenience. The reality is that every injury affects a person and a family.
To remind us of this, NWZAW designated today, April 5, 2017 as Go Orange Day. People wearing orange in support of highway safety are encouraged to post photos to social media using the hashtag #OrangeForSafety to spread awareness.
“Go Orange Day and NWZAW is an important time to show your support of the roadway safety industry, especially to the families of victims who have lost their lives in work zones,” reads the ATSSA website.
This year for Go Orange Day the ATSSA also has added videos to their campaign, highlighting stories of family members who have lost loved ones to work zone accidents in a series of moving videos.
Take a look at these videos, put on something orange, and remember these tips not just on your commute today, but every day.
Get Justice for Work Zone Accidents
Although most of us are aware of how much is at stake every time we drive through a work zone — and NWZAW helps alert more people about the consequences of irresponsible driving — there are some drivers who pay too little attention and speed recklessly through construction sites.
If you’ve suffered an injury because of someone’s failure to heed safety precautions on the road, contact our attorneys today. Our car accident and construction accident attorneys at Morgan & Morgan have achieved justice for victims of negligent drivers, and we may be able to help you, too. Fill out our free, no-risk case evaluation form to learn what we can do for you.