April 17 marked the beginning of the 24th Work Zone Awareness week, a reminder for motorists to drive safely in work zones while remembering those who have fallen in the line of duty. As a part of this annual week, multiple agencies have shown their support for those who risk their lives to build and maintain the roads we use daily.
The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) urges motorists in a press release to work with them. VDOT, throughout the week, will be alerting drivers of the potential dangers of highway work zones, which claimed 22 lives across Virginia last year. Nationwide, more than 80% of those who die in work zone crashes are motorists or passengers.
VDOT’s employees and contractors are committed to work zone safety. Virginia has led the way to raise awareness of the challenges that workers and drivers encounter in work zones.
The Kansas Department of Transportation (KDOT) is demanding drivers lower their speed while traveling through work zones. Nick Rogers, KDOT's Senior Traffic Control Engineer explained that there are many reasons to obey the lower speed limit in a work zone. The roadway might be temporarily altered -- to channel traffic differently, in a more confined space. The area just off the roadway might be excavated during the construction. Construction equipment might have to exit or enter. Motorists who slow down to the posted speed and pay attention are more likely to avoid a collision.
KDOT urges motorists that the lowered speed limit is there for the workers as much as it is for the drivers.
The Idaho Transportation Department (ITD) is joining other transportation agencies across the nation in raising awareness for work zone safety. According to the agency, from 2017 to 2021, Idaho saw 3,119 crashes in work zones resulting in 36 deaths, stressing the need for this year’s theme: “You play a role in work zone safety. Work with us.”
“Work zone safety is drivers and highway workers cooperating together to slow down and improve safety,” said Dan McElhinney, Chief Deputy and Chief Operations Officer for ITD. “ITD employees and contractors design traffic control with signs, cones, beacons or reduced speed limits to help guide vehicles through these hazard zones, knowing we really appreciate drivers being engaged without distractions for success. Let’s all get home safely every day.”