Work zone safety is everybody’s responsibility

Let’s keep each other safe

This week is National Work Zone Safety Awareness Week, a time to show your support for the men and women working to improve Oregon highways, roadways and streets.

National Work Zone Awareness Week PosterThe theme of this year’s campaign is “Work zone safety is everybody’s responsibility,” and that couldn’t be more true. Whether you’re a construction worker, a traffic engineer, a trucker, a car driver or a police officer, there are things we can do to keep each other safe.

Driver behavior is a top concern

Driver behavior is a top concern when it comes to work zone safety.

“We need people to be focused 100 percent on the task of driving, but that’s not always the case,” said Lt. James Rentz with Oregon State Police.

“Our top concerns in a work zone are people driving too fast for conditions and distracted drivers.” That concern is echoed by ODOT’s State Maintenance Engineer Luci Moore. “Our employees get hit when drivers are traveling through a work zone too fast or are not giving their full attention to their surroundings.”

“Construction zones are fluid and change depending on the type of project,” Lt. Rentz said. “There’s a lot going on. It’s a lot of visual stimulation; you have to give your full attention to driving.”

On average in Oregon, a work zone crash occurs every 17 hours. An inattentive (distracted!) driver is the most common cause of work zone crashes. When you talk to a group of construction workers, almost all of them have either had a near miss or have been hit in a work zone.

“Know that we have families, and we’d like to see them at the end of the day,” said ODOT Worker Ben Lewis.

April 11 is Go Orange Day

It’s the day to wear orange as a reminder: Orange is your clue! Pay attention when you see orange signs, barrels, cones or barricades. Post an orange selfie! Hashtags: #GoOrange, #Orange4Safety

What can you do?

  • Think about your one and only job when you’re behind the wheel: driving. #DriveHealthy: Hands on the wheel, mind on the road. Put your phone in the glove compartment or hand it to a passenger.
  • When you’re a passenger, don’t let your driver drive distracted. Ask for their phone—you can answer, instead. Or put it in the glove compartment!
  • Pay attention all the time you’re driving, but especially when you see orange signs, barrels, cones and barricades.

Think you’re not at risk? Think again.

Four out of five work zone fatalities are drivers and their passengers. More than 90 percent of all work zone incidents result in driver or passenger injuries. So when you are giving them a brake, you are also giving yourself a brake.

Engineering and design solutions make a difference

“ODOT has a variety of tools in our traffic control plan design toolbox, and we are continually seeking out new materials, devices and practices to improve work zone safety,” said ODOT Traffic Control Plans Engineer Scott McCanna.

Those tools include devices and methods for reducing speeds, getting drivers’ attention, providing improved work zone information, and putting physical barriers between travelers and the work area.

We must continue to work together

There is not a one-size-fits-all solution for improving work zone safety. However, when we share similar concerns and priorities it makes finding solutions to problems much easier. Together, we can make a difference in work zone safety.

Distracted Driving Prevention