ARLINGTON, Va. — In a new report that starkly highlights the risk to workers as well as motorists in highway work zones, 44 percent of roadway contractors said vehicles had crashed into their construction sites in the past year, for a 13 percent jump from 2016 and including spikes in construction worker deaths and injuries.
The Associated General Contractors of America, which surveyed more than 700 contractors nationwide during March and April, said it has launched a new public advertising and information campaign in the wake of its findings.
“There is no meeting, e-mail or text that is more important than the safety of workers or motorists,” said Stephen Sandherr, the association's CEO. “It is absolutely essential for every driver to slow down, pay attention and put the phone down while driving through highway work zones.”
“State department of transportation officials have a high level of awareness that their people and contractors working on their behalf are often at risk in work zones where vehicles move swiftly past them with little room to spare,” said Bud Wright, executive director of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials. “We hope the startling results of this new survey, in which nearly half of highway contractors report work site crashes, can prompt greater public awareness and help improve safety practices by the driving public.”
Sandherr said the AGC survey results also showed of the contractors reporting work zone crashes, 49 percent said motor vehicle operators or passengers were injured and 13 percent of those crashes involved a driver or passenger fatality.
Highway work zone crashes also pose a significant risk for construction workers. Sandherr said 25 percent of work zone crashes injure construction workers and 11 percent of those crashes kill workers.
The association said that 82 percent of surveyed contractors reported that vehicle crashes pose a greater risk now than they did just 10 years ago.
The crashes produce economic impacts as well.
The AGC announcement said 27 percent of contractors reported that work zone crashes in the past year forced them to temporarily shut down construction activity. And those delays were often lengthy, as 52 percent of the closures lasted two or more days.
Sandherr said its campaign will include radio ads to air in dozens of cities, cautioning drivers to be careful in highway work zones. The ads warn drivers that speeding, texting and losing focus while in work zones are not worth the "nightmare" of killing workers, drivers or passengers.
One such ad notes that summer travel season means more travelers on the road, but that this is also the prime season for roadway construction.
That ad includes this message: “When you see orange barrels, slow down, pay attention and put the phone away. Keep the men and women who maintain our roads safe, as well as you and your passengers.”