Fourty-four percent of highway contractors reported 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. As a result, association officials launched a new national advertising and outreach campaign to urge motorists to stay alert and slow down while driving through highway work zones.
"There is no meeting, email or text that is more important than the safety of workers or motorists," Stephen E. Sandherr, chief executive officer for the association. "It is absolutely essential for every driver to slow down, pay attention and put the phone down while driving through highway work zones."
Sandherr said that 49 percent of contractors who reported work zone crashes on their projects said that motor vehicle operators or passengers were injured, and 13 percent of those crashes involved a driver or passenger fatality. Highway work zone crashes also pose a significant risk for construction workers, Sandherr noted. He said 25 percent of work zone crashes injure construction workers and 11 percent of those crashes kill them.
Work zone crashes also have a pronounced impact on construction schedules and costs, Sandherr said. He noted that 27 percent of contractors reported that work zone crashes during the past year have forced them to temporarily shut down construction activity. Those delays were often lengthy, as 52 percent of those project shutdowns lasted two or more days.
Association officials said that a majority of contractors (82 percent) report that motor vehicle crashes pose a greater risk today than they did just ten years ago. That is why the association is launching a new national advertising campaign that is designed to help improve the safety of the nation's highway work zones.
Sandherr noted that the campaign will feature new radio ads that will air in dozens of cities around the country that caution drivers to be careful in highway work zones. The ads warn drivers that speeding, texting and losing focus while in work zones aren't worth the "nightmare" of killing workers, drivers or passengers.
"With the summer travel season starting this weekend, our message to every motorist is this: when you see construction signs and orange barrels, take your foot off the gas, get off the phone and keep your eyes on the road," the highway contractor added.
The work zone safety study was based on a nationwide survey of highway construction firms the association conducted in March and April of this year. Over 700 contractors completed the survey nationwide. View the national, regional and California, Colorado, Indiana, Kentucky, Minnesota, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia and Washington highway construction zone survey results.