It’s National Work Zone Awareness Week! National Work Zone Awareness Week (NWZAW) is a national, annual spring event that is taking place this week, April 26-30, 2021. The purpose of NWZAW is to encourage drivers to drive with caution in highway construction zones. This event is especially meaningful for families who have lost a loved one due to a highway construction accident. This year’s event is hosted by the Michigan Department of Transportation and can be watched via live stream.
Drive Safe. Work Safe. Save Lives.
This year’s NWZAW theme is Drive Safe. Work Safe. Save Lives. This motto emphasizes the need for both construction crews and drivers to do their part in keeping everyone safe. It is a theme that can be stated no matter what year it is, but given recent statistics, it is more necessary to emphasize to the public than ever.
Work Zone Statistics
Between 2018 and 2020, road construction fatalities and accidents have risen, despite lower traffic levels due to pandemic restrictions. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, in 2018, there were a total of 757 work zone fatalities, while 2019 had 842 fatalities. Those who lost their lives mainly included drivers, pedestrians, and bicyclists. According to Work Zone Barriers, crashes at work zones have increased by 42% between 2013 and 2019, only increasing further in 2020. In 2019, 67% of construction sites reported a crash into their work zone, resulting in either injury to workers, drivers, or pedestrians and fatalities to drivers or pedestrians.
How to Stay Safe
On the drivers’ part, common causes of accidents have included speeding, rear-end collisions, and the involvement of a CMV (commercial motor vehicle.) The more the public can be aware of the hazards of construction zones, the better. The best practices are to slow down, keep vigilant, and teach others to do the same.
As for construction teams, it is vital to implement positive protection, that is, trustworthy barriers to keep workers and traffic separate. In this ongoing goal to improve work zone awareness, multiple states, including Maryland, have implemented their own work zone safety campaigns.
Go Orange Day
Don’t forget: April 28th is Go Orange Day! In the middle of National Work Zone Awareness Week, Go Orange Day encourages roadway professionals to wear orange and support the cause. Of course, civilians can join in too!
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