Every spring, National Work Zone Awareness Week (NWZAW) brings attention to worker safety and mobility issues in work zones. This year, the Federal Highway Administration (FHA) is working with the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) and the American Traffic Safety Services Association (ATSSA) to bring the event together from April the 8th – 12th. This year marks the 19th year of the event. Each year has a unique theme. The theme for 2019 is “Drive Like You Work Here.”
Creating a Safer Work Zone
One of the best ways to avoid work zone accidents is to take detours when they’re available. Drivers who are in unfamiliar areas aren’t always aware of alternative routes. Posting highly visible signage is one of the best ways to make sure they do know where these alternative routes are. It’s one way work crews can help ensure drivers do their part to keep work zones safe.
Rear-end crashes are the most common type of work zone crash. One reason for this is that drivers don’t have adequate time to get their vehicles to a full stop. Tractor trailers and other large vehicles take nearly 1-1/2 times as long to stop as average-sized cars. Rear-end accidents are a problem that you can prevent by marking milestones along the way. Help drivers slow down the pace as they approach the work zone. Make sure the signs you use are easily visible at night and in all kinds of weather conditions.
Work Zone Safety Is Everyone’s Responsibility
This was the theme for last year’s safety week, but it’s a fact that applies to work zone safety every day, year around. It takes a cautious work crew who uses all of the tools available to them to prevent crashes. It also requires drivers to stay alert and take an active role in preventing accidents.
Consider whether you would know what to do if you were in a driver’s place. A “Road Work Ahead” sign lets them know to prepare for unusual driving conditions. If a work zone results in two-way traffic where it’s usually one-way, make sure you clearly post signs that let them know they’ll be meeting oncoming traffic.
One of the most dangerous situations that occurs in a work zone is the merging of two lanes of traffic into one. Do you have the road clearly posted well in advance? If traffic gets heavy, drivers will have less time to switch lanes without running into other traffic.
Most of us travel for miles each day, often along the exact same routes. We don’t expect a flagger to be controlling traffic. If you rely on a flagger to divert traffic from your work zone, use a “flagger ahead” sign to let drivers know what to expect. Make sure drivers are prepared to stop and/or follow instructions as needed.
Marking the end of the work zone is almost as important as preparing drivers who are entering it. A sign that alerts drivers to the “end of road work” tells them they can resume traveling is a safe, normal manner. If the area is prone to congestion, make sure they know that too.
Driver Awareness Saves Lives
The most important thing drivers can do is always be alert. Pay attention to signs alerting you to work zones. Obey the posted speed limit and stay alert to what other drivers are doing. Going 20mph over the speed limit results in an additional one mile in just 25 seconds! Slowing down sooner gives you extra time to stop.
Distracted driving is also an issue that leads to work zone crashes and fatalities. It isn’t just texting or talking on your cell phone that makes driving dangerous. It’s also changing radio stations, eating, and talking to other passengers in your vehicle. Anything that keeps your attention and your eyes off the road adds to your risk of having a crash.
National Work Zone Awareness Week highlights everyone’s responsibility to keep work zones safe. It takes the effort of every worker and every driver to bring the number of work zone crashes and fatalities down.
Dornbos Sign & Safety Inc. has been manufacturing FHWA & MUTCD compliant traffic control highway, road and street signs for over 60 years. At Dornbos Sign Inc., we also carry sign Posts, traffic cones, barricades, roll-up signs, and many other temporary work zone safety products.