Last week was National Work Zone Awareness Week. This week has been observed for the past 15 years in the United States for one critical reason. Individuals who are assigned to road construction sites risk their lives and their wellbeing every single day that they are on the job.

In order to better prevent debilitating construction injuries and fatalities in work zones, a number of agencies collaborate to host this important week of observance and education. Specifically, National Work Zone Awareness Week is sponsored by the American Traffic Safety Services Association (ATSSA), the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO).

In 2012 alone, more than 20,000 workers were injured in highway work zones and 130 workers lost their lives in these road construction sites. These are particularly tragic statistics given that work zone deaths and injuries are almost always preventable. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics vehicles cause the vast majority of work zone related fatalities.

In order to reverse this preventable trend, it is important to take away some critical lessons from National Work Zone Awareness Week. First, motorists need to take care to avoid speeding and any distracted driving behaviors whatsoever in and around work zones. Proper attention to one’s surroundings can greatly help to reduce risk of accidents in these areas.

In addition, it is imperative that employers of highway construction workers clearly mark work zones and communicate instructions on how motorists can safely navigate them. If motorists do not understand where they can and cannot drive safely near work zones, accident risk increases.

Source: Safety.BLR.com, “8 safety tips for National Work Zone Awareness Week,” April 8, 2014