More than 1,000 people are killed and nearly 40,000 injured each year in accidents that occur in roadway construction zones across the U.S. It is a serious public health issue that receives little national attention. The federal government and the transportation construction industry are seeking to change that by launching a major initiative aimed at improving safety in these sites.
The U.S. Department of Transportation's Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) has awarded a four-year contract to the American Road & Transportation Builders Association Transportation Development Foundation (ARTBA-TDF) to improve and expand the operations of the National Work-Zone Safety Information Clearinghouse (NWZSIC).
With additional FHWA, ARTBA-TDF and industry support, the clearinghouse will completely redesign its Internet website utilizing state-of-the-art technologies to add video streaming and conduct on-line training and conferences, and improve the site's navigability by allowing users to search multiple databases. The clearinghouse also will host a bi-annual, national "Traffic Management and Work-Zone Safety Conference" with the first to be held Oct. 9-11, 2007, in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., in conjunction with Intertraffic North America.
ARTBA-TDF will launch new advertising, marketing, media relations and other outreach activities to educate the transportation and construction industries, general public and media about the new services offered through the clearinghouse.
A board of advisors and technical committee, consisting of corporate and organization leaders interested in highway safety, also will be established to provide oversight and guidance on clearinghouse operations.
"We are pleased to be working closely with the federal government to significantly expand the resources of this educational facility that can help save lives, reduce injuries and cut the economic toll of traffic accidents in road construction sites," said ARTBA-TDF Chairman Dave Kraemer, a highway and bridge contractor from Wisconsin. "We view this project as providing both a public and industry service. That's an unbeatable combination."
The NWZSIC first opened in 1998 under a cooperative agreement between ARTBA and FHWA. In 2000, federal support for the facility ended and ownership was transferred to ARTBA-TDF. Since that time, the clearinghouse has been supported by ARTBA, the Texas Transportation Institute (TTI), the American Association of State Highway & Transportation Officials (AASHTO), transportation construction industry firms and national labor organizations.
Today, the NWZSIC is the world's largest online library of information on roadway construction safety "best practices," laws, regulations, public awareness campaigns, products, training and educational materials. More than 100,000 information requests are handled annually from industry professionals, state transportation departments, general public and news media. Day-to-day operations are managed by the TTI in College Station.
Users can access free information, training program, research and related services through the clearinghouse website at www.wzsafety.org or by phone at 888/447-5556.