The week of April 26 is National Work Zone Awareness Week (NWZAW) and McCormick Taylor is promoting work zone safety this week and all year long. For those who may not be familiar with NWAZW, here are five things everyone should know about work zone safety because we all deserve to get home safely.
1. HISTORY: NWZAW originated in 1997 when staff members of the Virginia Department of Transportation wanted to raise awareness about work zone safety before construction projects picked up in earnest during the warmer months. In the following years, officials from state DOTs and the American Traffic Safety Services Association (ATSSA), the Federal Highway Administration, and the American Association of State Highway Transportation Officials coordinated to launch the first official NWZAW in 2000.
2. CURRENT SAFETY: This year, the twenty-first year of NWZAW, the theme is "Drive Safe. Work Safe. Save Lives." According to the National Work Zone Safety Information Clearinghouse, there were 762 separate fatal crashes in work zones in 2019, resulting in 842 deaths. That year, there were also 135 roadway workers killed across the country. Safe work zones are created by roadway workers and general motorists alike.
3. WORKER SAFETY: There are numerous injury prevention measures that should be put into place to protect individuals in work zones. These include optimizing the work zone layout, using temporary traffic control devices, wearing high-visibility apparel, properly illuminating the work zone, educating motorists with appropriate signage, among others. The theme of this year’s NWZAW for workers is Avoiding Struck-By Incidents, which are a leading cause of death among construction workers.
4. DRIVER SAFETY: The everyday motorist is responsible for the safety of work zone employees as well. Every driver should limit their distractions and provide their undivided attention to navigating around active work zones. Drivers must slow down, follow posted signs, be alert, and remain calm. While in the work zone, avoid speeding up and slowing down to look at the construction work being done. Also, be sure not to tailgate the driver ahead of you, as most of the accidents within a work zone are rear-end collisions.
5. GO ORANGE DAY: You can help promote NWAZW by participating in Go Orange Day on April 28. Roadway safety professionals across the country are encouraged to wear orange to proudly show their support of work zone safety. You can spread the message by liking, commenting, and sharing on social media using the hashtags #NWZAW, #GoOrange4Safety, and #SaferRoadsSaveLives.