Although Work Zone Safety Awareness Week ended April 12, the Georgia Department of Transportation continues to urge motorists to take its safety messages to heart, share them with family and friends and "drive like you work here" every single day.
As residents enjoy the balmy days of spring, an active summer construction season is coming up across Georgia, along with many work zones. The department anticipates an active construction season including ongoing major projects such as the Transform 285/400 improvement project in metro Atlanta, the I-85 widening project in Gwinnett, Barrow and Jackson counties, and the phased I-16/I-75 interchange reconstruction project in Macon-Bibb County — not to mention resurfacing and maintenance projects on interstates and state routes throughout Georgia.
Each spring, Georgia DOT and departments of transportation across the country observe National Work Zone Safety Awareness Week. This year's theme — Drive Like You Work Here — sheds light on the dangers for the public and for workers in work zones. In 2018, there were 52 fatalities in work zones in Georgia — all members of the public. There were no worker fatalities in Georgia work zones in 2018.
Distraction is a key cause of many crashes, and this especially applies in work zones. In fact, on April 8 — the first day of Work Zone Safety Awareness Week — a crash investigation report identified distraction as a contributing factor in a work zone fatality on GA 87 when a driver failed to observe a stopped tractor-trailer in the roadway and hit the trailer.
During this very active construction season, Georgia DOT advises motorists to:
- Obey road crew flaggers and pay attention to signs. Failure to obey speed limit signs or a flagger's traffic control directions can result in hefty fines and/or imprisonment.
- Don't speed. Obey the posted speed limit, even when workers are not present.
- Don't tailgate. Keep a safe distance between you and the car ahead of you and the construction workers and their equipment.
- Stay alert and minimize distractions. Give your full attention to the roadway. Avoid changing radio stations, eating behind the wheel or using cellphones and other electronic devices while approaching and driving in a work zone area. Even hands-free cellphone use is a distraction.
- Wear your seatbelt. It is your best defense in a crash. And make sure your passengers are buckled up too, even in the back seat.
- Remember Georgia's Move Over Law, which requires drivers to move over one lane if possible when approaching stationary highway maintenance and construction workers, HERO and CHAMP operators, law enforcement or emergency vehicles, firefighters, paramedics, tow truck operators and utility service vehicles flashing emergency lights. If it is unsafe to move over, slow down below the posted speed and be prepared to stop.
- Know before you go. Expect delays, leave early and schedule enough time to drive safely. For 24/7 real-time traffic information call 511 or visit www.511ga.org before you get into the car. And follow Georgia DOT on Twitter for additional updates.
"Whether your office has walls or your office is on the roadway, everyone deserves to get home safely," Georgia DOT said in a press release. "Please Drive Like You Work Here. And be safe out there."
To watch "Keep Your Eyes Open," GDOT's summer construction work zone movie trailer, visit https://bit.ly/2IATuh6.