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040919 highway work zone.jpg Photo: Weekly Safety

Federal Highway Administration calls for safer driving, safer work zones

Work zone fatalities increased for fourth straight year according to latest federal data.

Deputy Federal Highway Administrator Brandye L. Hendrickson was joined by local officials, construction workers, and families of highway work zone victims at the kickoff event for the 2019 National Work Zone Awareness Week. 

“Safety is everyone’s responsibility, so please focus 100 percent on driving, be sober, be considerate of road workers and other road users and, please, obey the posted speed limits,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao.

During a ceremony held at the Frederick Douglass Memorial Bridge replacement project, Hendrickson emphasized the importance of driving safely through work zones.

“As the weather gets warmer, highway workers are heading outdoors to improve our roads and keep us moving,” said Hendrickson. “We all need to do our part and drive carefully, so that we can help keep everyone safe wherever construction is under way.”

Officials said the campaign’s theme, “Drive Like You Work Here,” underscores the importance of drivers staying alert and making safety a priority while driving through work zones.  In 2017, the most recent year for which data are available, there were 799 fatalities in work zones, which is a two-percent increase from the previous year. 

Fatal work zone crashes involving large trucks or buses increased from 189 in 2016 to 222 in 2017.  Speed was a factor in 29 percent of fatal work zone crashes that year, and 80 percent of work zone crash victims were drivers or passengers – not highway workers.

National Work Zone Awareness Week – supported by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and other transportation partners at the start of construction season each spring – raises awareness of safety measures taken on roads all over the country.  

FHWA works with state and local transportation officials to promote improvements in work zone planning and design, increased law enforcement near work zones, enhanced worker training, and heightened awareness among drivers.  

Since 2005, FHWA has awarded more than $50 million in grants to develop work zone safety guidance and training and support the National Work Zone Safety Information Clearinghouse, which provides the transportation construction industry and the public with comprehensive information to improve motorist, worker, and pedestrian safety in roadway work zones.

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