LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — This year’s National Work Zone Awareness Week (NWZAW) is slated for April 11-15. In Washington State, officials are taking the entire month of April to remind drivers about the importance of being hyper aware in work zones.
According to the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT), Washington averages around 626 highway work zone injuries each year.
Almost 94 percent of the people injured or killed in work zone collisions are drivers and their passengers, according to WSDOT.
The top three causes of work zone crashes are following too closely, speeding and distracted/inattentive driving.
Nationally, from 1982 through 2019, 28,636 people (about 774 per year) lost their lives in work zone crashes, according to the Center’s For Disease Control.
Since the peak year of 2002 – when 1,186 died in construction and maintenance zones – the number of deaths declined steadily to an average of 591 from 2008-2014, then increased to an average of 782 from 2015-2019.
Texas recently released their own grim stats related to work zone deaths.
In 2021, traffic crashes in the state’s work zones claimed the lives of 244 people, a 33% increase over the previous year, according to a Texas Department of Transportation news release.
Work zone safety tips
- Slow down – drive the posted speeds, they’re there for your safety.
- Be kind – our workers are out there helping to keep you safe and improve the roadways.
- Pay attention – both to workers directing you and surrounding traffic; put your phone down when behind the wheel.
- Stay calm – expect delays, leave early or take an alternate route if possible; no meeting or appointment is worth risking someone’s life.
History of work zone awareness
In 1997, a group of Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) staff members, located in southwestern Virginia, wanted to dedicate a week to raise awareness about work zone safety among all district employees before construction projects picked up during the warmer months. Following the successful promotion of this first event, VDOT brought the idea of raising awareness to other DOTs, and in 1999 the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) began its statewide public awareness campaign, “Slow for the Cone Zone.”
However, it was 1998 when VDOT first presented the idea to create a national campaign to ATSSA officials. In December of 1999, ATSSA approached the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and the American Association of State Highway Transportation Officials (AASHTO) to launch the first official NWZAW.
They developed an agreement between the organizations, that outlined goals for NWZAW efforts: Initiate efforts to raise awareness of the need for more caution when driving through work zones to decrease fatalities and injuries; establish and promote a uniform set of safety tips; the value of training and importance of best practices in regard to work zone safety would be promoted among individuals in the private sector, industry, and roadway workers; reach out to both roadway workers and contractors to communicate possible effects of motorists’ behavior in response to traffic delays, and advise on what steps might possibly be taken to lessen negative behavior; and outreach efforts would be made to work with entities involved with work zone safety and to form partnerships.
The first official NWZAW kick-off event was held in 2000 in Springfield, Va. The site where the kick-off event is held now alternates each year from being hosted in the Washington, D.C., area to different locations across the United States. State transportation departments can submit applications to host the event on those alternate years.
Go Orange Day History
National Go Orange Day, designated to help raise work zone safety awareness, celebrates its seventh year on Wednesday, April 13, 2022.
The event has become a staple of NWZAW and is a time for individuals and organizations across the country to express their support for work zone safety by wearing orange.
In an effort to stop work zone crashes, this nationwide effort was first introduced by the Federal Highway Administration as a new component of NWZAW in 2016.
The Trucker News Staff produces engaging content for not only TheTrucker.com, but also The Trucker Newspaper, which has been serving the trucking industry for more than 30 years. With a focus on drivers, the Trucker News Staff aims to provide relevant, objective content pertaining to the trucking segment of the transportation industry. The Trucker News Staff is based in Little Rock, Arkansas.