Sixty-seven percent of highway contractors report that motor vehicles had crashed into their construction work zones during the past year, according to the results of a new highway work zone study conducted by the Associated General Contractors of America. In response, association officials have launched a new radio and media campaign urging drivers to slow down and remain alert in highway work zones.
"There are simply too many cars crashing into too many work zones, putting too many lives at risk," said Brian Turmail, the association's national spokesman. "That is why we are launching a nationwide outreach effort designed to better educate motorists about the need to drive with care in highway work zones."
Turmail said that 70 percent of contractors reported work zone crashes on their projects in which motor vehicle operators or passengers were injured. In addition, 28 percent of those crashes involved a driver or passenger fatality. Highway work zone crashes also pose a significant risk for construction workers, Turmail noted. He said that 28 percent of work zone crashes injure workers and 8 percent of those crashes kill them.
In response, the construction association announced the launch of the new safety education campaign. Association officials noted that 73 percent of contractors report that the risk of highway work zone crashes is greater now than it was a decade ago. Turmail noted the increased risk was "unacceptable."
Association officials are launching the nationwide outreach campaign to try to improve highway work zone safety for workers and motorists alike. As part of the new effort, association officials will be talking to radio stations around the country about what drivers should do while passing through construction sites. The association also will use social media to urge drivers to be more careful and alert in highway work zones.
The association also is working with construction equipment and technology firms to develop systems to better alert workers when vehicles come too close to job sites. And the association's chapters will continue to work with local and state police and state departments of transportation to ensure adequate highway work zone protections are in place.
"When you see construction signs and orange barrels, obey the posted speed limit, keep your eyes on the road and get off the phone," the association spokesman said. "No amount of saved time, and certainly no social media post or text, is worth the safety of you, your passengers or the men and women working on our roads."
The work zone safety study was based on a nationwide survey of highway construction firms the association conducted this April and May. Nearly 400 contractors completed the survey.
Click here to view the national, state and regional highway construction zone survey results.