For many areas across the U.S., springtime is when everything seems to sprout back to life, including plants, animals — and work zones. With an increase of cones and barrels on the roadways comes the risk of accidents from sharing the road with workers. In fact, work zone crashes have seen an 11% increase in recent years, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).
It’s important for commercial drivers as well as drivers of passenger vehicles on active roadways to be acutely aware of work zone safety and prevention in order to help minimize accidents and fatalities.
What is a ‘Work Zone Accident’?
Work zone crashes are defined as “taking place within the boundaries of a work zone or on an approach to or exit from a work zone due to activities, behaviors, or controls related to traffic moving through the boundaries of a work zone,” according to The National Safety Council (NSC). In 2020, 857 people were killed and 44,240 people were injured in work zone crashes.
Accidents and fatalities related to work zones are often caused by commercial drivers passing through areas that include narrow lanes, sudden stops, traffic pattern shifts, and uneven roads. These work zone changes are frequently altered or rerouted throughout the duration of a road construction project.
How to Safely Share the Road
“All drivers should be aware that work zones can change day to day, or even hour to hour,” said Todd Bernardoni, Risk Management Expertise Specialist at Amerisure. “No one wants to make a split-second decision on the road from not planning ahead of time that could potentially change lives forever.”
According to the FMCSA, drivers should adhere to the following to reduce the risk of work zone crashes:
- Plan your route ahead of time; check for upcoming work zones and detours
- Reduce speed while traveling through work zones; be prepared to stop
- Stay alert and avoid distractions; pay attention to workers, flags, signs, and signals
- Give workers in the area extra room; slow down when approaching work sites
- Be aware of passenger vehicles, including blind spots, and maintain extra space
- Move into open lanes as soon as possible when approaching lane closures
Best Practices by Region
Many industries have work zone jurisdictions or commercial motor vehicle (CMV) driving routes that cross into multiple areas of the U.S. This means there may be additional work zone safety considerations to know during a driver’s journey depending on where they are traveling.
“In addition to adhering to nationwide safety best practices, it’s important to note there are specific playbooks for areas where there are heightened efforts due to the high number of fatalities involving commercial motor vehicles in work zones,” said Sean Yakicic, Risk Management Expertise Specialist at Amerisure. “Following these guidelines can help businesses in these areas reduce risk of accidents.”
Learn more about the specific best practices for states who experience heightened work zone crashes:
- Arkansas / California / Florida
- Georgia / Illinois / Indiana
- Ohio / Oklahoma / Pennsylvania
- Puerto Rico / Texas
Work Zone Awareness Week Activities
Businesses are encouraged to participate in National Work Zone Awareness Week by following along with the campaign, accessing the resources, and spreading the word about the importance of work zone safety with employees who drive for commercial purposes. The American Traffic Safety Services (ATSS) Foundation is coordinating resources and events for the week with the following themes:
- Work Zone Safety Training Day – April 17
- National Kickoff Event – April 18
- Go Orange Day – April 19
- Social Media Storm – April 20
- Moment of Silence – April 21
Enhance Safety with Your Fleet Today
Amerisure offers Fleet Safety and Distracted Driver training courses, and partners with leading technology vendors to provide policyholders with telematics technologies that track and improve driver behaviors. To learn more about commercial fleet safety programs and distracted driving prevention, reach out to your Amerisure Risk Management Consultant or contact [email protected].
Activities and resources are available by visiting the official Work Zone Awareness Week website.
Read about the real-world impacts of work zone safety:
With recent crash, road safety again thrust into the spotlight