BOISE – The Idaho Transportation Department (ITD) is joining states across the country to promote National Work Zone Awareness Week April 26-30, 2021. The national and state campaigns are designed to raise awareness and educate the public about the safety measures we can all take in work zones, and how we are all responsible for work zone safety.
In 2020 Idaho saw 753 crashes in work zones resulting in five deaths, stressing the need for this year’s campaign: Drive Safe. Work Safe. Save Lives.
“Because work zones are congested and busy it’s so important that drivers stay alert and avoid distractions,” said Idaho State Police Trooper Tauna Davis. “In a work zone, the margin for error shrinks. With workers alongside the roadway, consequences of distracted driving can be especially serious, and none of us want that.”
For over 20 years, National Work Zone Awareness Week has been held in April at the traditional start of construction season when highway projects increase. This year, ITD is using its Facebook and Instagram accounts in lieu of public events to remind everyone that construction workers are our neighbors, family members, and friends.
“Watching for signs and following the direction they give us is what keeps all of us safe in work zones,” said Idaho State Police Corporal Scott Bolen. “The people in the work zones, from flaggers to engineers and equipment operators, are working to make the road safer and they count on all of us to keep them safe by slowing down and following the direction of signs and barriers. If we just stay focused and patient through a work zone, we’ll all be safely on our way.”
Since 1960, 40 workers have lost their lives on the job in Idaho. Every one of the fallen workers left behind family, friends, and co-workers who miss them to this day.
Though workers are often victims of work zone crashes, the dangers of reckless and distracted driving more often affect those behind the wheel. According to the Federal Highway Administration, four out of five work zone fatalities were drivers or passengers. Generally, crashes occur when drivers speed through a work zone or do not pay attention to the changing road conditions and drive off the road, or run into other vehicles, highway equipment, or safety barriers.
How can you help?
Work zone crashes are preventable. The top three causes of crashes are following too closely, speeding, and distracted driving.
When approaching a work zone please remember to:
Slow Down – drive the posted speed limits
Pay Attention – both to workers directing you and surrounding traffic
Plan Ahead – Check 511.idaho.gov before you go to plan your route. Expect delays, leave early or take an alternate route if possible
“Every highway worker out there is someone’s parent, child, spouse, sibling, or friend,” reiterated ITD’s Chief Operations Officer Dan McElhinney. “Their job is to maintain and enhance our traveling experience while keeping everyone safe while doing so. As drivers we all should be work zone safe because they deserve to return home each day to their loved ones.”