Work Zone Awareness Week
Safety is everyone's business
No one likes going through a road work zone. Traffic backups, delays and more can be inconvenient, but are hardly worth risking someone’s life. But we’re all guilty of feeling personally put out by construction. But imagine if you worked there. Talk about hard not to take personally.
In addition to debris from vehicles which can be deadly, aggressive and distracted driving are also daily threats to those in work zones. Imagine standing there, doing your job, and people whiz past you close enough to touch, speeding and even yelling at you too. And you’re just there doing your job.
Imagine how you’d feel if a road construction worker drove a dump truck into your office.
The worst part is, aggressive driving doesn’t get people anywhere any faster. If anything, bad driving causes worse traffic at best, and deadly accidents at worst.
So National Work Zone Awareness Week was created to remind drivers there are people working in danger that deserve your attention. At the very least, they deserve to go home to their families, the same as you, after work.
As a somber reminder of this simple right, there’s a memorial that travels the country with names of work zone fatality victims. Currently, there are more than 1,400 names of workers on it. This doesn’t even count the number of drivers killed in work zone accidents either.
National Work Zone
This year, 2019, marks the 20th anniversary of National Work Zone Awareness Week (NWZAW). With even more distractions and heavier traffic affecting driving today, it’s critical to bring attention to those who work in the dangerous situations that most of us just blow past.
This year’s NWZAW theme, “Drive Like You Work Here,” kicks off the awareness campaign happening April 8-12.
Okay, you understand that work zone accidents are horrible. Not only are innocent workers injured and killed in great numbers, but most deaths around road construction occur to drivers involved in rear-end collisions. So, it’s in your interest to drive well.
So, what can you do? There are key things to keep in mind when driving through a work zone.
Top 10 Safe Driving Tips
Expect the unexpected. Road conditions can change overnight. Normal speed limits may be reduced, traffic lanes may be closed, narrowed, or shifted and people may be working on or near the road.
Don't speed. Speeding is one of the major causes of work zone crashes; obey posted speed limits.
Don't tailgate. Keep a safe distance between your vehicle and other cars, construction workers and construction equipment. Rear-end collisions account for 30 percent of work zone crashes. So, remember the two-second rule (“one one-thousand, two one-thousand” between the back bumper of the car in front of you and your front bumper, paced by landmarks)
Don't cut off traffic. Keep a safe distance between your vehicle and the cars behind you. When changing lanes, use your signal for several seconds before moving, and make sure you can see the headlights of the car behind you clearly in the rear-view mirror.
Obey road crew flaggers and pay attention to the signs. The flagger knows how to best move traffic safely in a work zone. Follow their warning signs which are there to keep everyone safe.
Stay alert and minimize distractions. Motorists should dedicate their full attention to the roadway and avoid changing radio stations or using cell phones and other electronic devices while approaching and driving in a work zone.
Keep up with the traffic flow. Do not slow down to "gawk" at road work.
Know before you go. Before driving, check real-time traffic apps such as Waze, radio, TV, and websites for traffic information and schedule enough time to drive safely. Expect delays and leave early so you can reach your destination on time.
Be patient and stay calm. Work zones aren't there as inconveniences. Remember, the work zone crew members are working to improve the road and commutes for all roadway users.
Wear your seat belt. It is your best defense in a crash.
These may seem like common sense tips, but are still worth repeating. This is also true of the too-true expression, “Common sense isn’t so common.” And, if you have young drivers in your family, make sure you emphasize these rules to them as well.
I’ll admit, I have a vested interest in Work Zone Awareness Week. I work for a civil engineering company with many employees working in the danger of roadside crews. But it goes further too. As a driver I have an interest to drive respectfully and count on others on the road to do the same. As a parent, I want to avoid accidents at all costs as well as teach my kids to respect the rules so they will also someday be respectful drivers.
Work Zone safety affects everyone
Even for experienced road workers, NWZAW is an eye opener. Just ask any surveyor to recount their most recent close calls, and most just scratch their heads. It's because there are too many to name, and that is unacceptable. Yes, accidents happen. And while some are no one's fault (like debris being kicked up unexpectedly), most close calls are avoidable and happen because of bad driving choices.
But if we decided to respect those who put themselves in danger and collectively reason that bad driving is unacceptable for the risks incurred, we can change the world for the better.
This is the goal of work zones too- making the world a better place.