FHWA: U.S. Averaging Nearly 3 Work Zone Deaths/160 Injuries Per Day

"Slow for the Cone Zone" is the theme of the ninth annual National Work Zone Awareness Week, which starts today and will be observed through April 11. A press conference and general media event will take place Tuesday, April 8, at 11:00 a.m. PST on the west steps of the State Capitol in Sacramento, Calif., marking the first time in the Week's history that the national kickoff will take place outside of the Washington, D.C. area.

According to the Federal Highway Administration, the annual number of people killed in motor vehicle crashes in work zones over the last decade has increased 45 percent (up to 1,010 in 2006). On average, from 2002 to 2006, about 15 percent of the fatalities resulting from crashes in work zones were pedestrians, including workers and bicyclists. In all, the administration says, the United States is averaging one work zone fatality every 8.7 hours (almost three a day) and one work zone injury every nine minutes (160 a day). In 2006, roughly half of all fatal work zone crashes happened during the day, and more than twice as many fatal work zone crashes occurred on weekdays as on weekends.

In observance of the Awareness Week, FHWA has issued the following 10 tips for driving in work zones (capitalization provided by the administration):

  • EXPECT THE UNEXPECTED! (Normal speed limits may be reduced, traffic lanes may be changed, and people may be working on or near the road.)
  • SLOW DOWN! (Speeding is one of the major causes of work zone crashes; obey posted speed limits.)
  • DON'T TAILGATE! KEEP A SAFE DISTANCE BETWEEN YOU AND THE CAR AHEAD OF YOU. (The most common crash in a highway work zone is the rear end collision. So, don’t tailgate)
  • KEEP A SAFE DISTANCE BETWEEN YOUR VEHICLE AND THE CONSTRUCTION WORKERS AND THEIR EQUIPMENT.
  • PAY ATTENTION TO THE SIGNS! (The warning signs are there to help you and other drivers move safely through the work zone. Observe the posted signs until you see the one that says you've left the work zone.)
  • OBEY ROAD CREW FLAGGERS! (The flagger knows what is best for moving traffic safely in the work zone. A flagger has the same authority as a regulatory sign, so you can be cited for disobeying his or her directions.)
  • STAY ALERT AND MINIMIZE DISTRACTIONS! (Dedicate your full attention to the roadway and avoid changing radio stations or using cell phones while driving in a work zone.
  • KEEP UP WITH THE TRAFFIC FLOW. (Motorists can help maintain traffic flow and posted speeds by merging smoothly, and not slowing to “gawk” at road work equipment and crews.)
  • SCHEDULE ENOUGH TIME TO DRIVE SAFELY AND CHECK RADIO, TV AND WEBSITES FOR TRAFFIC INFORMATION. (Expect delays and leave early so you can reach your destination on time. Check the National Work Zone Safety Information Clearinghouse--www.workzonesafety.org--for information on work zone delays throughout the country.)
  • BE PATIENT AND STAY CALM. (Work zones aren't there to personally inconvenience you. Remember, the work zone crew members are working to improve the road and make your future drive better.)

For more information on NWZAW activities, including how to join the National Work Zone Awareness Week listserv, visit www.atssa.com/cs/root/news_pr/nwzaw_2008.

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