Work zone fatalities at highest level since 2006, new data shows

842 people died in highway work-zone crashes in 2019

April 28, 2021 / 1 minute read
work zone safety

In 2019, 842 people died in highway work-zone crashes, an 11.2% increase from the previous year—representing the largest percentage increase of highway work zone fatalities since 2006, according to the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA).

The FHWA joined state Departments of Transportation and other organizations nationwide this week to urge drivers to keep highway workers safe as construction activities increase. They also urged the public to wear orange on April 28 for a national “Go Orange” Day to show their support for highway workers.

“We all have a role to play when it comes to safely repairing and improving our nation’s roads, bridges and highways,” Acting Federal Highway Administrator Stephanie Pollack said in a statement. “If you are driving and see construction work ahead—and especially workers on the job—please slow down and drive carefully.”

Crashes in highway work zones happen most frequently when drivers are not paying attention to changing road conditions, FHWA says. Distracted driving is a key element of many crashes, leading many drivers to crash into other vehicles, highway equipment, or safety barriers. 

Though highway workers are often among the victims of work zone crashes, the dangers of reckless driving more often affect those behind the wheel and their passengers. Four out of five work zone fatalities were drivers or passengers, according to FHWA data.

FHWA says it has supported work zone safety efforts for more than 20 years and, since 2005, awarded more than $40 million in grants to states for specialized work zone safety training. To date, nearly 4,300 courses have been provided to over 120,000 state and local DOT personnel or other transportation agency staff.

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SOURCE: Federal Highway Administration

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