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What to Know for National Work Zone Awareness Week

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Ah, springtime — birds singing, flowers in bloom, and orange barrels dotting the highway. While road work zones may not be the most idyllic facet of spring, a little awareness and some safe driving can save lives. That’s why the American Traffic Safety Services Association created National Work Zone Awareness Week, which is typically observed during the second week of April. For the past 20 years, the organizers of NWZAW have worked to promote safe driving practices and community awareness about work zone dangers. So, in honor of National Work Zone Awareness Week, here’s a look at some shocking statistics — and what you can do to keep everyone safe on the road.

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Work zone statistics

Of course, work zones are risky places for crew members — but motorists face dangers, too. According to the Federal Highway Administration, during a five-day work week, eight people die in and around work zones: seven motorists and one worker. Work zone crashes are also unfortunately common, with 1,007 in 2017 and 1,042 in 2018.

Distracted driving plays a significant role in work zone crashes. In 2018, 53% of these accidents listed distracted driving as a factor. Since April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month, it’s the perfect time to enable Do Not Disturb mode on your phone and brush up on what constitutes distracted driving.

Safety tips

  • Expect the unexpected: Work zone conditions may change from day to day. Your normal route may be closed, narrowed, or shifted.
  • Obey speed limits and flaggers: Speed is a leading cause of work zone crashes. Keep an eye out for speed limit reductions — and be sure to obey them. Similarly, the flagger knows how to safely move traffic in a work zone.
  • Maintain a safe following distance: Rear-end collisions account for 30% of work zone crashes, so give road workers and your fellow motorists a little extra space.
  • Stay alert: Dedicate your full attention to the roadway — avoid changing your infotainment settings, using electronics, or rubbernecking.
  • Be informed: Before you leave, check out real-time traffic information from TV, radio, websites, or an app like Waze. Use this information to plan a different route or shift your schedule to account for the delay.
  • Safety first: Make sure that you and your passengers are wearing seatbelts.
  • Remain calm: Work zones aren’t meant to be inconveniences. Instead, try to remember that these crews are working hard to make the roads smoother and safer for everyone.

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Sources: ATSSA, State Journal