The transportation industry is taking increasing steps to improve the timeliness of information about active work zones but even before those measures are available nationwide, work zone warnings are important for everyone to heed to get home safely.
This year’s National Work Zone Awareness Week (NWZAW) is April 11-15 with the theme: “Work Zones are a Sign to Slow Down.”
The American Traffic Safety Services Association (ATSSA) based in Fredericksburg, VA, made the case on March 31 in a news release for the the week.
The national annual public awareness campaign, in its 22nd year, spreads the message that we are all responsible for work zone safety.
Statistics from the National Work Zone Safety Information Clearinghouse show the vast majority of people killed in work zones are motorists, passengers and pedestrians. The most recent statistics show there were 762 fatal crashes in work zones resulting in 842 deaths in 2019. Of those killed, 135 were roadway workers.
“National Work Zone Awareness Week was established with roadway workers in mind, but the statistics make it abundantly clear that everyone is at risk in work zones,” ATSSA president and CEO Stacy Tetschner said. “The goal of this week is for motorists to slow when approaching and passing through roadway work zones so everyone makes it home safely.”
Statistics for 2019 estimate there were 115,000 work zone crashes—27,000 of which were injury-involved crashes resulting in 39,000 injuries—underscoring the need to observe work zone speed limits and eliminate distractions when approaching and driving through work zones.
This year’s National Kickoff Event is scheduled for Tuesday, April 12 and is hosted by the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT). It will be held at 1:30 p.m. EDT at the Fort Monroe Continental Gazebo, 4 Fenwick Rd., Hampton, Va. 23651, which overlooks the Hampton Roads Bridge Tunnel Project.
In case of rain, the event will move indoors to the Fort Monroe Theater, located a few blocks from the gazebo. The event will also be streamed live. (Watch for details for the livestream at NWZAW.org/participate or the ATSSA blog.)
Cameron Hutt of Cleveland, TN., a college student whose father was killed in a work zone incident in 2006, is scheduled to speak at the National Kickoff Event. Cameron is a senior studying communications at the University of Tennessee and the recipient of a Roadway Worker Memorial Scholarship.
Roadway Worker Memorial Scholarships are awarded through The American Traffic Safety Services (ATSS) Foundation, the charitable arm of ATSSA. The ATSS Foundation awards scholarships to the dependents of roadway workers killed or permanently disabled in work zone incidents. The scholarships are competitive and have a value up to $10,000 with an additional $1,000 possible for students with a strong commitment to volunteerism.
NWZAW got its start in 1997 when a group of VDOT employees in southwestern Virginia wanted to dedicate a week to raise awareness of work zone safety among all district employees ahead of the busy roadway work season.
The next year, VDOT presented the idea for a national awareness campaign to the American Traffic Safety Services Association (ATSSA), which, in turn, approached the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and the American Association of State Highway Transportation Officials (AASHTO). The groups finalized plans and launched the first national kickoff event in 2000.
NWZAW now includes a theme for each day.
- April 11 – Work Zone Safety Training Day in which companies are encouraged to pause during the workday for safety demonstrations, discussions about safety policies and other prevention steps to protect people in work zones.
- April 12 – National Kickoff Event as described above. In addition, departments of transportation across the country and private companies organize events in their locations.
- April 13 – Go Orange Day when everyone is encouraged to wear orange to show support for work zone safety and the families of victims who have lost their lives in work zones. Photos can be posted on social media with #NWZAW and #Orange4Safety.
- April 14 – Social media storm in which organizations, companies, agencies and individuals are encouraged to share messages and use hashtags #NWZAW and #WorkZoneSafety throughout social media between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. EDT.
- April 15 – Moment of Silence. People are encouraged to take part in this new event for 2022 to remember the people who lost their lives in a work zone incident.
For additional information about NWZAW and its history, check NWZAW.org.