National Work Zone Awareness Week (NWZAW) is an annual spring campaign held at the start of construction season encourages safe driving through highway work zones. The key message is for drivers to use extra caution in work zones.
This year’s National Work Zone Awareness Week—themed “Work Zones are a Sign to Slow Down”— scheduled for April 11 - 15, 2022, reminds all drivers to watch out for state department of transportation (DOT) and private sector employees who work within inches of their vehicles. Extra attention is required for everyone's safety.
Drive Safe. A reminder that work zones need everyone’s undivided attention. When approaching a work zone, motorists should always slow down, follow all posted signs, be alert, and remain calm. Risky driving behavior affects more than just the driver – everyone’s lives and families are at stake.
Work Safe. Technology is helping to make work zones safer by collecting data and automating processes, which can remove workers from dangerous situations and provide motorists with important information. It is also a reminder that work zone safety begins with workers who are dedicated to safety.
Save Lives. If we ALL work together, we can achieve zero deaths on our roads and in our work zones!
According to the federal DOT, a “work zone is an area of a highway with construction, maintenance, or utility work activities. A work zone is typically marked by signs, channelizing devices, barriers, pavement markings, and/or work vehicles.”
About 700 people, including over 100 workers, are killed every year in work zone accidents. That means nearly four in five of the victims are drivers and their passengers. More than 40,000 people are injured in work zones annually. Drivers using their cell phones are 4 TIMES more likely to be involved in a crash.
Wednesday, April 13 is Go Orange Day
All roadway safety professionals across the country are encouraged to wear orange on Wednesday to proudly show their support of work zone safety. 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. Post your photos and videos to social media with the hashtags #GoOrange4Safety and #NWZAW.
When driving through work zones, even the smallest mistake can be deadly.
- In 2019, there were 762 work zone fatal crashes resulting in 842 deaths.
- Four out of five people killed in work zones are motorists – not highway workers.
- Most work zone crashes are rear-end collisions.
- While most major work occurs at night, the majority of work zone crashes occur during daylight hours.
- Major contributing factors in work zone crashes include: not paying attention, going too fast for conditions, failure to yield the right-of-way and following too closely.
Work Zone Safety is Everybody's Responsibility
Safety training and education is one of the best ways to raise awareness about Work Zone Safety. The team at Weeklysafety.com encourages you to have a Safety Meeting or Toolbox Talk on Work Zone Safety with your crews and employees. If your teams do roadside work, then this would be a great opportunity to review safe work zone procedures. If your employees do not do roadside work, then consider having a safety meeting on tips for driving through work zones, like these listed below.
These simple tips could save your life in a work zone:
- Think Orange! When you see orange signs, cones and barrels, expect a roadside work zone ahead.
- Stay alert! Look for reduced speed limits, narrow driving lanes and highway workers.
- Pay attention. Work zone signs will tell you exactly what to expect ahead.
- Merge early. If drivers merge as soon as they see the signs, traffic will flow more smoothly.
- Slow down. You may encounter slowed or stopped traffic in an instant.
- Don’t follow too closely. Maintain a safe distance on all sides of your vehicle.
- Minimize distractions. Just because you might be driving slower doesn’t mean it’s a good time to check your text messages!
- Plan ahead. Expect delays and allow extra travel time. Select an alternate route if you are running late.
The leading cause of highway construction worker injuries and fatalities is contact with construction vehicles, objects, and equipment. These injuries and deaths are preventable through a number of good practices. As our highway infrastructure ages, many transportation agencies are focusing on rebuilding and improving existing roadways. This means more roadwork is being performed on roadways that are open to traffic. At the same time, traffic continues to grow and create more congestion, particularly in urban areas. To avoid major queues during peak travel periods, urban areas are seeing more night work. The combination of more work done alongside increasingly heavier traffic and greater use of night work can result in increased safety considerations for highway workers. However, there are regulations and available resources on good practices that can help workers perform their jobs safely.
Visit the U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration’s Work Zone Management Program to find a lot of great resources to improve your work zone safety program.
For more information and resources on this year’s NWZAW campaign, visit the official National Work Zone Awareness Week website at nwzaw.org that has links to all the resources for the campaign.