Over the years, nearly 1500 road workers have been killed in work zone accidents, nine in Colorado alone, and all drivers need to do their part to prevent this number from growing.

Work zones can be deadly if motorists aren’t careful.

Now in its 19th year, April 9 – 13 is recognized across the country as National Work Zone Awareness Week (NWZAW). Though work zone safety is not something we think about unless our community is undergoing some road construction, it is something everyone should be more aware of; the construction workers and road crews building or repairing our roadways should be able to focus on the job at hand instead of worrying about the possibility of being injured in a car accident. As cities, states, and municipalities nationwide spend more and more federal funds on infrastructure building and repairs, motorists need to keep the safety of these workers in mind, and obeying traffic laws around work zones and using some common sense are necessary for meeting the goal of safety.

Work Zone Accidents Occur Everyday

Dozens of road workers are injured every day due to accidents in work zones. In 2015, the Federal Highway Administration said there were 70 work zone accidents daily, that’s a frequency of nearly one accident every six minutes. That same year, there was at least one fatality every week in a work zone accident. While the most common reason for these injuries and fatalities was an accident involving a worker and a piece of equipment on the job site, officials say the second most noted reason for injuries or deaths was a collision between a vehicle and the equipment the worker was using. Among the leading factors in these accidents were motorists speeding and driving under the influence of alcohol.

Since nationwide records have been kept, The National Work Zone Memorial, which honors those workers who were killed in work zones while providing support to the families left behind, has listed 1,455 names among those on its memorial list. Colorado has seen its share of construction zone accidents as well. According to state officials, in 2014, more than 1600 accidents occurred in work zones resulting in more than nine deaths and 100 injuries. Accidents do happen, but these injuries and deaths could potentially be avoided if motorists follow basic road rules when driving around or through work sites, such as:

  • Observing and abiding by posted signs, especially work zone speed limit signs, and work zone flaggers directing traffic
  • Turning on headlights to make sure those working can see your vehicle
  • Slowing down and refraining from tailgating, so there’s sufficient room in between vehicles in case of sudden stops
  • Unless otherwise instructed, never changing lanes during a work zone
  • Keeping your eyes on the road and off the phone or some other device that is distracting
  • And, being patient even if it means losing a little travel time; these work zones are necessary for road maintenance or expansion

Go Orange Day on April 11 and Promote Work Zone Safety

As part of this observance, NWZAW is promoting its Go Orange Day, slated for April 11. Officials with NWZAW encourage people across the country to wear something orange (something that should be an easy ask for Denver Broncos fans). The idea behind Go Orange is to show support for those workers who put their lives in danger to make your commute easier. Officials also want to show support to all those families who have lost a loved one due to a work zone accident. Do your part by wearing orange and remaining extra cautious around road construction. Too many lives have been lost in senseless accidents that could be avoided if motorists pay attention and abide by traffic laws.

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