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Safety Tips for Navigating Construction Work Zones: National Work Zone Safety Awareness Week

“Work zones are temporary. Actions behind the wheel can last forever.” That’s the theme for this year’s National Work Zone Safety Awareness Week (NWZAW). 

In honor of NWZAW, we’d like to spotlight our teams out in the field and encourage everyone to learn how to practice  safety on the roads so we can protect ourselves and workers alike.

NWZAW is an event that takes place across the U.S., with partnerships between state departments of transportation, national road safety organizations, government agencies, private companies, and individuals. It’s a national effort to raise awareness of the need for caution when driving through work zones to decrease injuries and deaths, plus establish and promote a uniform set of safety tips and best practices. 

Per the most recent data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Association, there are close to 900 deaths annually in roadside work zones. Struck-by incidents are the second leading cause of death among construction workers and the leading cause of nonfatal injuries in the construction industry as a whole, but the majority of fatalities are drivers and their passengers.

These numbers demonstrate how vital it is for drivers to slow down and stay focused while passing through a roadway work zone. These work zones play an important role in maintaining and updating our roadway systems, but at the same time, they cause unexpected changes in traffic patterns that can result in excessive delays, crashes, injuries, and deaths. 

Road workers rely on us to keep them safe. We’re in charge of preventing these crashes, injuries, and deaths. Here are some key tips to keep in mind next time you find yourself in a construction site: 

  • Avoid the four primary types of distracted driving — visual (taking your eyes off the road), manual (taking your hands off the steering wheel), auditory (listening to something interfering with concentration), and cognitive (taking your mind off driving). This might mean refusing to use a cell phone, put on makeup, eat/drink, listen to loud music, or doing anything else that takes your focus off of the road.
  • Read the signs. We’ve all seen these bright orange safety warnings whether they indicate a flagger, road/lane closure, workers on site, or detour ahead — so please take heed of them and be actively alert when they’re present.
  • Obey the posted speed limit, which decreases when we reach a work zone. Taking this one simple step can save a life. 
  • Be prepared for sudden stops. Construction zones interfere with the normal flow of traffic, so it’s critical to pay attention to the given traffic pattern to avoid accidents. If possible, research your route ahead of time and use detours.
  • Be careful around large vehicles, especially if they block your view.

Every work zone is a potential hazard, and we must continue our efforts to protect all workers and drivers beyond National Work Zone Safety Awareness Week. Remember: “Work zones are temporary. Actions behind the wheel can last forever.”