Posted by US Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao
Summer and fall are the peak seasons for road construction to make needed improvements on our nation’s highways and streets. Road work can be a very dangerous occupation as motor vehicles are speeding by, too often in excess of posted speed limits, with drivers distracted and not focused on the road around them. In 2016, 143 construction workers were killed by motor vehicles in road work zones. This loss of life is tragic and preventable, primarily by drivers being more careful.
Nearly 800 people were killed and tens of thousands injured in road work zones in 2016. Most of these fatalities were drivers and passengers. Approximately 15-20% of road work zone crashes involve non-motorists – pedestrians and bicyclists. Rear-end crashes are the most common type of work zone crash and typically take place on roads with speed limits greater than 50 mph.
30 percent of work zone crashes involve large trucks. The stopping distance for a large truck travelling at 55 mph is almost 50 percent greater than that needed for a car. Truck drivers need to be especially careful. And it should go without saying that if you’re in a 3000-lb car, it is unwise, as well as rude, to race to cut in front of an 80,000-lb truck.
Delays because of road construction can be inconvenient to travelers and understandably aggravates many drivers who are already frustrated by the everyday traffic congestion around our nation. But everyone behind the wheel needs to take it upon themselves to exercise patience and consideration for others to prevent traffic fatalities and injuries.
National Work Zone Awareness Week is April 9-13 and the theme this year is "Work Zone Safety: Everybody's Responsibility." There will be concerted efforts at the state level to educate drivers about the need to drive safely around road work zones. The Federal Highway Administration’s Work Zone Management Program is also working all year round to provide transportation practitioners assistance with planning, designing, and implementing safer work zones.
“Go Orange Day” is Wednesday, April 11. USDOT staff, roadway safety professionals and advocates across the country are encouraged to wear orange to show support for work zone safety!
Get off the phone, pay attention to the road, be considerate of road workers and other road users and obey the posted speed limits! It takes only 25 seconds more time to cover one mile at 45 mph than at 65 mph. Causing a crash could result in a lifetime of regret and grief, not least of all for the victims and their loved ones.