National Work Zone Awareness Week
This year’s National Work Zone Awareness Week (NWZAW), observed April 26-30, is themed “Drive Safe. Work Safe. Save Lives.” NWZAW is an annual campaign held at the start of construction season that encourages safe driving through highway work zones. The public awareness campaign was launched 21 years ago to encourage drivers to use extra caution in work zones and understand they play a role in keeping motorists and roadway workers safe.
Statistics from the National Work Zone Safety Information Clearinghouse show there were 762 fatal crashes in work zones resulting in 842 deaths in 2019. Tragically, 135 roadway workers were part of these killed in work zones. These fatality counts are up from 757 and 124 in 2018. These statistics demonstrate the importance of NWZAW and spreading the message that everyone has a role in getting roadway workers home safely. Additionally, there were a total of 123,000 work zone crashes in 2018 – of which 31,000 were crashes that resulted in 45,000 injuries, which underscores the critical need to observe work zone speeds and eliminate distractions—such as cell phones—when approaching and driving through work zones.
Stressing the importance of being aware of surroundings in work zones, Skip Powe, Principal with SSR, said, “Construction and maintenance workers risk their lives each day on behalf of the public in order to build and maintain the roads and bridges we all need for our daily activities. These workers are mothers and fathers, sons and daughters, friends and co-workers. Just like all of us, they want to go home to their families at the end of the work day. Their families need them, just like yours need you.”
Tips for being a safer driver in work zones:
- Slow down and obey posted speed limits.
- Stay alert; work zones can change daily, and signs, cones, drums, and flaggers are there to help guide you safely.
- Keep your eyes on the road and eliminate distractions such as cell phones.
- Watch for sudden stops and don’t tailgate.
- Watch for workers and their equipment.
- Move over a lane to give the construction crew more space if the roadway allows.
In Alabama, Morris King of Vulcan Materials Company (VMC) and his dog, Millie, are spearheading the message by the Mobile Section of the Associated General Contractors of America Alabama Chapter (AGC Alabama). Millie, a Labrador Retriever service dog, is somewhat of a local celebrity as she’s been the subject of books about her therapy care for those in need. AGC Alabama recruited Morris and Millie to bring attention to motorists and workers to the importance of NWZAW and has tagged Millie as their “Spokes Dog.” Morris and Millie are featured in this year’s social media and billboard campaign across the state and have posed for photos with construction safety signs and on construction equipment with children from a local roadway contractor.
NWZAW was formed by the American Traffic Safety Services Association (ATSSA), the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO), and the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA). The partnership has expanded through the years to include many other national industry associations. For more information concerning NWZAW, contact Skip Powe.