Submitted by: Steve Corbitt, Safety & Health Specialist
National Work Zone Awareness Week (NWZAW), sponsored by federal, state and local transportation officials each April, draws attention to the safety needs of road workers during construction season. Generally, crashes occur when drivers speed through a work zone, do not pay attention to changing road conditions, run into other vehicles or highway equipment, or drive off the road completely. In order to raise awareness and educate the road users of the state, The Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) recognizes April 3-7, 2017, as NWZAW.
NWZAW is an annual spring campaign held at the start of construction season to encourage safe driving through highway work zones. This year’s theme, “Work Zone Safety is in Your Hands!” promotes the goal of Zero Crashes in work zones.
Driver-related factors that affect work zone crashes include substance abuse, speeding, in-vehicle distractions and inattentive or aggressive driving. Nationally, in 2014, distracted driving was a factor in 16 percent of fatal crashes in work zones, while speeding was a factor in 29 percent and substance abuse was a factor in 25 percent. Some simple tips for improving safety include: be alert, slow down to posted speeds, avoid distraction, don’t tailgate, and expect the unexpected.
In 2015, there were more than 6,500 crashes and just under 80 fatalities in work zones. In an effort to save lives, it is vital that motorists take work zones seriously by slowing down and keeping their hands on the wheel, eyes on the road and mind.