ADOT urges drivers to slow down, avoid distractions as National Work Zone Awareness Week starts today

"Expect the Unexpected" is safety message from transportation agencies

PHOENIX —It is one of the most dangerous jobs across the country, that of the highway worker. Operating close to traffic subjects highway workers to safety risks, including speeding, impaired or distracted drivers. But the Arizona Department of Transportation also points to national statistics that show most victims in work zone crashes are likely to be drivers or their passengers.

“Expect the Unexpected” is the theme of this year’s National Work Zone Awareness Week, which starts today (Monday, March 23).

In 2013, the latest year for which national statistics are available, 579 people died in work zone-related  crashes across the country, according to the American Traffic Safety Services Foundation. About 80 percent of those killed or injured in such crashes were drivers or their passengers.

A review of law enforcement crash reports shows 17 people were killed in Arizona work zone crashes in 2013. It was a noticeable increase over seven such fatalities in 2012 and 10 deaths in 2011.

ADOT and other U.S. transportation agencies have joined together this week to urge drivers to pay attention to signs and other warning devices, slow down and give workers plenty of space in and around work zones along highways and local roadways.

No ADOT workers have been killed in work zone crashes in recent years, and the agency wants to keep it that way.

ADOT has unveiled a new Work Zone Safety public service announcement that highlights the risks construction and maintenance crews face along highways, especially when drivers don’t heed lowered speed limits in work zones. The video shows a close call for a paving crew as a speeding recreational vehicle passes by them.

 “A tragedy can occur at any moment within a work zone,” said ADOT Director John Halikowski. “Our highway workers are somebody’s family member. We’re asking you to slow down and pay attention so those workers can make it home safely to their families at the end of the day.”

For more information about work zone safety, visit azdot.gov/workzone.

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