Idaho Kicks Off National Work Zone Awareness Week: Stay Safe as Construction Season Begins in Southwest Idaho

Cones in truck

Construction season is a time that brings mixed feelings for a lot of Idaho drivers. While road construction leads to improved roads that benefit all Idahoans, work zones can be bothersome and even dangerous if drivers aren’t paying attention.

Today the Idaho Transportation Department (ITD) is joining with states across the country for National Work Zone Awareness Week (NWZAW). From April 15-19, we raise awareness for the start of construction season and encourage safe driving through work zones.

“Driving cautiously in highway work zones helps families,” said ITD’s Chief Deputy/Chief Operations Officer Dan McElhinney. “Travelers, workers and their family members benefit when we reduce crash risks by safely driving with awareness. Employees are focused on road or bridge tasks to help improve the quality of life for Idahoans, and driver alertness near road work is how we help them. We encourage being an engaged driver to keep everyone work zone safe and for all of us to get home each day.”

Driving engaged, free from distractions and actively scanning the road ahead, is extra important in work zones due to narrowed lanes, traffic pattern shifts, and uneven road surfaces.

What many people fail to recognize is most people killed in work zone crashes are drivers and passengers. Idaho Office of Highway Safety (OHS) data shows that from 2018-2022 there were 3,315 crashes in work zones in Idaho. During that period 32 people were killed, all of them were in vehicles.

“When you’re behind the wheel of a vehicle, it is essential to remember that the workers in construction zones have families and friends who love them, and they have entire lives they’re living too,” said the Idaho Association of General Contractors in a statement. “Driving recklessly is selfish, and we all must do our part to ensure the safety of the hardworking members of our community out on the roads.”

In Southwest Idaho, there are several construction zones ongoing or planned to start this summer. Drivers should be aware of the following areas:

Advice for drivers as work zone season begins across the state:

  • Use Idaho 511 to check your route for work zones before you depart.
  • Slow down while traveling through work zones, paying close attention to signs and signals.
  • Pay close attention to road workers and flaggers – give them extra room, always slow when approaching them, and be prepared to stop if necessary.
  • Be aware of the other vehicles around you, including other cars and commercial vehicles that have larger blind spots and longer stopping distances.
  • Rear-end crashes are common in work zones – obey all speeds, avoid distractions, and always maintain extra space between your vehicle and the one in front of you.
  • Wear your seatbelt. While you may be driving carefully you can’t control the behavior of other drivers.