Every spring, construction begins in earnest on that season’s road and bridge projects. As part of the start of the construction season, state Departments of Transportation observe National Work Zone Awareness Week. This year the awareness week will be conducted April 17-21 with a different theme each day. At its April 18, the Wright County Board of Commissioners recognized those county employees who do their jobs in work zones to get road projects completed.
Wright County Assistant Highway Engineer Chad Hausmann said that Work Zone Awareness Week is a reminder of the dangers that can be presented by drivers not paying attention in work zones and workers being in such close proximity to traffic moving by – often at a fast pace.
“Work zones exist so we can make improvements safely and define the area for both the public and workers,” Hausmann said. “We’re asking that people look for the work zones, slow down and put down their cell phones and avoid other distractions.”
National Work Zone Awareness Week began in 1997 when the Virginia Department of Transportation among its employees as construction seasons picks up. The response was so positive that it continued and went national in 2000. Since then, the event has been hosted in Washington D.C., California, Maryland, Virginia, New York, Missouri, Washington, Ohio and Illinois. This year’s events are being hosted by the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT).
The dangers of work zones are best evident in the National Work Zone Memorial, which includes more than 1,600 names of people killed in work zone incidents since 2002. Hausmann said that, while many workers have been killed or injured, the dangers are just as present for drivers.
“Drivers and passengers are more likely to be killed in work zones than workers, but maintenance and construction crew workers have also lost their lives, been injured or had close calls,” Hausmann said. “Rear-end crashes are the most common type of work-zone crash. Most of these crashes occur because of driver inattention and speeding, both behaviors we can change.”
To learn more about National Work Zone Awareness Week, go to its website at https://www.nwzaw.org/.