PHOENIX – Drivers across Arizona are urged to heed the sobering messages being delivered by transportation safety officials during National Work Zone Awareness Week (April 7-11). More than 600 people were killed in highway work-zone crashes across the country in 2012, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
In Arizona, eight people died in work-zone crashes along highways and local roads in 2012, according to figures compiled by the Arizona Department of Transportation.
The goal of this year's Work Zone Awareness Week is to reduce those deadly figures. The safety campaign's theme is “Work Zone Speeding: A Costly Mistake."
Federal officials say speeding was a factor in more than 35 percent of fatal work-zone crashes around the country two years ago.
“The safest thing drivers can do is pay attention when a work zone is up ahead,” said ADOT Deputy Director and State Engineer Jennifer Toth. “The statistics show speeding in work zones is dangerous. We need more drivers to slow down when they see warning signs, barricades and orange cones.”
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration figures also show that nearly four in five victims in work-zone crashes are drivers and their passengers. Crashes often occur when drivers exceed the work zone speed limit, fail to react to merging lanes or other road conditions, or run into other vehicles or heavy equipment.
Officials with the Federal Highway Administration say this work zone safety campaign is held each year prior to the start of the summer driving season, which includes holiday weekend travel.
“Many sections of our nation's roads will be busy with workers and drivers in the coming months as construction activity picks up,” said Federal Highway Administration Deputy Administrator Greg Nadeau. “By following the rules of the road in work zones, we can keep people safe during National Work Zone Awareness Week and all year long.”
According to ADOT, the rules for driving in work zones include:
Pay attention to signs and other work zone safety devices.
- Pay attention to signs and other work zone safety devices.
- Slow down and be prepared to merge safely when approaching a work zone.
- Avoid rear-end collisions by maintaining a safe distance behind other vehicles.
- Avoid distractions. You'll be better prepared to respond to changing road conditions.
- When in a line of traffic, be patient and stay calm.
- Obey road crew flaggers. They have the same authority as a regulatory sign. Ignore a flagger and you could be cited by a law enforcement officer.
For the latest statewide highway conditions, use ADOT's Traveler Information System at az511.gov or call 5-1-1.