See Orange? Slow Down: National Work Zone Awareness Week

National Work Zone Awareness Week

This week is National Work Zone Awareness Week across the country. We observe this safety awareness week every April, and it is very timely as many road construction projects are in full force or beginning. Road construction is heavy during the spring, summer, and fall months, and spring is a great time to remind motorists to look for the orange cones and vests of workers in order to slow down.

Not only are traffic tickets much higher in road construction zones, but the likelihood of a crash greatly increases if drivers do not slow down and use caution in these work zones. If you are going to be traveling down a highway or interstate from now until icy weather returns, you should look for construction areas and be very cautious. As well, you should always allow for some extra time in your travel schedule. Impatience and high speed are two of the biggest factors in causing road construction accidents.

There were 87,606 crashes in work zones in 2010. This equates to one work zone injury every 14 minutes (96 a day) or about four people injured every hour. According to a study conducted by the U.S Department of Transportation, most of the crashes in 2010 did not lead to fatalities, but 30 percent were injury crashes, and 69 percent were property damage only crashes.

Worker Injury

More than 20,000 workers are injured in road construction zones each year. According to a presentation on Injury Hazards in Road and Bridge Construction, between 2003 -2008, these injuries were caused by the following factors:

  • Contact with objects or equipment (35%)
  • Slips, trips, or fall (20%)
  • Overexertion (15%)
  • Transportation incidents (12%)
  • Exposure to harmful substances or environments (55)

Work Zone Fatalities

Data collected from National Work Zone Safety Information Clearing Work Zone Fatalities, FARS Data, and Traffic Safety Facts 2010, the following information was compiled regarding fatalities in road construction work zones in 2010:

  • there were 514 fatal motor vehicle crashes in work zones that resulted in 576 fatalities
  • These 576 fatalities equate to one work zone fatality every 15 hours (1.6 a day)
  • The number of fatalities is a 13.6% decrease from 2009 (667 fatalities), a 20% decrease from 2008 (720 fatalities), a 31% decrease from 2007 (831 fatalities), a 43% decrease from 2006 (1,1004 fatalities) and a 46% decrease from 2005 (1,058)

Roadway construction worker fatalities reached a high point in 2005 with 165 fatalities. Between 2005 and 2008, the numbers declined, rose in 2009, and slightly declined again in 2009. Workplace fatalities that occur in road construction sites typically account for 1.5% to 3% of all workplace fatalities annually. Obviously, working on the highway should not have to be so dangerous. The primary causes of worker fatalities in recent years include runovers/backovers, collisions between motor vehicles and equipment, and workers being caught/struck by construction equipment or objects at the worksite.

Work Zone Fatalities Compared to Total Annual Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT):

Between 2002 and 2010, work zone fatalities decreased by 51%, while total annual VMT grew from 2.829 billion to 2.967 billion, an increase of 4.89%. Travel on roads increased overall during this period. Thus it is likely that VMT increased in works zones in a similar way.

Characteristics of Work Zone Fatal Crashes Based on 2008 Data:

Based upon a report “Identification of Work Zone Crash Characteristics,” information was processed to determine “What We Know About Work Zone Fatalities (and What We Don’t) based on the 720 work zone fatalities in 2008. The report identified lack of seatbelt use, speeding, alcohol, time, and day of the week as all being factors in crashes. The most common type of crash was a rear-end collision. While rear-end collisions are common in regular traffic areas, they account for only 16% of all fatal crashes in non-work zone areas.

What does all of this data mean to you?

Whether you are a road construction worker or a driver on the roadways, this information pertains to you! For me and every other motor vehicle operator, it means that we should Slow Down in road construction areas. Road construction that involves diverting lanes and traffic passing by the construction area will continue to be dangerous. Speed limit reduction signs on the interstates are Not Suggestions. Road construction can cause unplanned detours, lane changes, and general changes in traffic patterns. When these changes occur, a driver who is not being extremely observant and cautious can easily be in a collision. Auto accidents can happen in a matter of seconds, even if you are paying close attention. The frequency and speed of traffic often contribute to the severity of a crash. That is not to say that injuries cannot occur in low-speed crashes—quite the contrary.

The point of National Work Zone Awareness Week is to remind all motorists to be on the lookout for workers in orange and to slow down when they encounter a work zone. Right now, orange cones surround St. Louis, and you will see more and more road construction zones in the months to come, so slow down and be cautious. The attorneys at The Cagle Law Firm would like to remind you that every day should be a heightened awareness day when it comes to safe driving—Let’s work at making this road construction season the lowest for injuries and fatalities!

If you have been involved in any type of auto accident, you may need legal representation. Our attorneys understand that an accident can happen in mere moments. However, the decisions and choices made in the minutes and hours prior may have an impact on that accident. If you have been injured, having a professional on your side to negotiate for you allows you to focus all of your energy on your medical improvement.

Attorneys at The Cagle Law Firm can be reached seven days a week at (314) 276-1681.

Contact Us Today

The Cagle Law Firm serves accident and injury clients throughout St. Louis and the greater St. Louis metropolitan area, including the eastern Missouri and southern Illinois communities. If you or a loved one needs legal assistance with your personal injury case, call The Cagle Law Firm at (314) 276-1681 or use our online contact form to schedule a free consultation.

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