In 2014, 669 fatalities occurred in highway work zones -- a slight increase over the previous year. While work zone fatalities are about half of what they were 15 years ago, there is still more work to be done, FHWA Deputy Administrator David Kim said.

2016 National Work Zone Awareness Week Under Way

"As spring advances and warm weather allows highway roadwork to resume after the winter, we must remember that the lives of highway workers are often in our hands," FHWA Deputy Administrator David Kim wrote as he urged Americans to travel safely through work zones.

National Work Zone Awareness Week is here once again, with the 2016 week being observed April 11-15 and its national kickoff event taking place at 10 a.m. April 12 near an I-75 widening project outside Toledo, Ohio. This annual event brings attention to motorists' and workers' safety issues as the summer construction season revs up; since 1999, the Federal Highway Administration has worked with the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials and the American Traffic Safety Services Association to coordinate and sponsor the event.

FHWA Deputy Administrator David Kim is scheduled to join FMCSA Chief Safety Officer Jack Van Steenburg for the kickoff event; three individuals who had family members die while working in highway work zones will be taking part in it, Kim wrote in a post on the DOT website.

"On average, three fatalities each day happen in a highway work zone. That means, each day, three families are losing children, brothers, sisters or parents. It's a tragedy," he wrote. "As spring advances and warm weather allows highway roadwork to resume after the winter, we must remember that the lives of highway workers are often in our hands. In 2014, 669 fatalities occurred in highway work zones -- a slight increase over the previous year. While work zone fatalities are about half of what they were 15 years ago, there is still more work to be done. All too often, the drivers are also victims. In fact, 82 percent of fatalities in work zone crashes are the drivers or their passengers. Distracted driving was a factor in 16 percent of fatal crashes in work zones, and speeding was a factor in nearly one-third of them."

The week's theme this year is "Don't Be That Driver!" It is intended to remind drivers that work zones require them to stay alert and be prepared for sudden changes. "We must do everything we can to protect drivers and highway workers alike" Kim wrote, adding that Wednesday, April 13, will be national "Go Orange Day," when FHWA urges American motorists to wear orange to show their support for highway workers' safety and to remind themselves to drive carefully through work zones they encounter.

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