The 14th annual National Work Zone Awareness Week kicked off yesterday in Washington D.C. and runs through April 19. The goal to improve driver and worker safety in highway work zones, and to improve vehicle mobility through work zones. The theme for 2013 of “Roadway Work Zone Safety: We’re All In This Together” reminds us that safety should be the first priority for everyone using the road including motorists, emergency vehicles, law enforcement, bicyclists, pedestrians, and construction road workers.

According to the U. S. Department of Transportation, more than 37,000 work zone injuries and 500 fatalities occur over the course of a year. This means that at the end of each workday, 96 road workers are injured or killed, with one work zone accident every fourteen minutes and one work zone fatality every 13 hours.

And workers aren’t the only ones at risk. In fact, accident statistics show that 80% of people killed in work zone accidents are either a driver or passenger in a vehicle traveling through the work zone.

In Louisville and Southern Indiana, as commuters know too well, there has been significant and ongoing road construction which is sure to continue if the proposed East End and downtown bridges projects really occur. Road workers are doing everything from building new bridges and ramps to patching potholes, mowing medians and planting flowers to greet visitors for the upcoming Kentucky Derby Festival activities.

Kentucky hopes that putting a human face to this growing problem will help bring this important safety message home. In a media blitz on local radio stations we overhear two sisters talking while they wait for their Dad to come home safely from his work zone job, their young voices imploring drivers to “please slow down…my Dad works here.”

Do your part to help reduce work zone injuries and fatalities by following these tips to safely navigate through work zones:

  • Slow down! Everyone is busy but that is no excuse to drive too fast, especially in a work zone. Driving too fast reduces reaction and stopping time, and increases the chances of an accident.
  • Keep a safe distance between your vehicle, road workers and other vehicles.  You don’t know what to expect in a work zone. Traffic may stop abruptly, lane changes may occur without warning, or workers may suddenly appear close to moving vehicles. Give yourself extra time to react to sudden changes.
  • Pay attention to road signs and road crew flaggers. Road signs and road crew flaggers are there to help your safe passage through construction or road hazards. Pay attention to directions from both.
  • Eliminate driving distractions. Distracted driving is dangerous at all times but is downright criminal while driving through a work zone. Put down the phone, leave the music alone, wait to eat when you’re not driving and don’t look into the backseat to attend to a child or other passenger. Your distraction could cost someone his or her life…including your own.
  • Expect delays and try to be patient. Road workers are not there to annoy you or to keep you from your planned activities. Their job is to build, improve and fix our roadways for continued safe travel. Give them the courtesy you would expect when doing your job.

The Becker Law Office wishes you and your family a safe journey on the roads but if you’re ever involved in a work zone accident, we are here to help steer you in the right direction.

For additional information on work zone safety, check these links: