According to new data released from the Federal Highway Association (FHWA), in 2019 (the year with the most recently compiled data), 842 fatalities occurred in work-zone crashes, compared to 757 in 2018, representing an 11.2% increase; this means the highest number of deaths in work zones since 2004.
“We all have a role to play when it comes to safely repairing and improving our nation’s roads, bridges, and highways,” said Acting Federal Highway Administrator Stephanie Pollack. “If you are driving and see construction work ahead – and especially workers on the job – please slow down and drive carefully.”
Although drivers and passengers make up four out of five work zone fatalities, road work crews view work zone deaths as a primary concern. The FHWA delivered this message during Work Zone Awareness Week last week: “The men and women fixing our nation’s highways deserve to get to work, do their job, and return home safe and sound after their shift,” said Pollack. “They can’t work safely if you don’t drive safely.”
Distracted driving causes the most accidents. The National Highway Transportation Safety Alliance (NHTSA) estimates that every day 481,000 drivers talk on their cellphones while driving. Sending or reading a text takes an average of five seconds, which is the length of a football field when traveling at 55 miles per hour.
The NHTSA announced a clear mission last week: “We can all play a part in the fight to save lives by ending distracted driving. Parents first have to lead by example—by never driving distracted—and talking with their young drivers about distraction and all of the responsibilities that come with driving. Have everyone in the family sign the pledge to commit to distraction-free driving. Remind your teen driver that in states with graduated driver licensing (GDL), a violation of distracted-driving laws could mean a delayed or suspended license. Teens should spread the message to their friends as well. Every commitment helps.”
By spreading the word to end distracted driving, the FHWA hopes to increase road crew safety by reducing construction zone accidents and fatalities.