To prevent driver and worker injuries and fatalities, the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA) encourages workplace safety zones for roadway workers and provides safety tips to drivers to prevent accidents.
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Roadway Work Zone Safety
In 2014, there were 669 fatalities related to roadway work zone car crashes. In 2015, a work zone car crash happened every five minutes, resulting in 70 daily crashes with at least one injury and 12 weekly crashes with at least one fatality. Safety zones are often made visible by barriers like bright orange barrels or cones that direct traffic and keep vehicles out of work zones. In some areas, workers may direct traffic with flags or signs that help to reduce traffic speeds as cars approach the work zones.
To protect drivers and workers and reduce accidents in roadway work zones, The National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA) has created a program that offers work zone safety tips for drivers:
- Slow Down – Speeds are always reduced in roadway work zones, but some drivers don’t reduce their speed. Drivers must slow down and obey posted speed limits to avoid injuring workers and other drivers.
- Stay Alert – Roadway work zone accidents often occur because drivers are not paying attention to their surroundings. Drivers should be aware of brake lights ahead of them and be prepared to stop quickly if necessary.
- Keep the Headlights On – Drivers should keep their headlights on while driving through roadway work zones to increase visibility. At night, bright lights should be avoided, because they can blind roadway workers and other drivers.
- Minimize Distractions – Distracted drivers who use cell phones, change radio stations, and eat and drink in the car cause accidents, even at slow speeds. Drivers should minimize distractions in roadway work zones.
- Merge Safely – Drivers should begin merging into proper lanes before the lane ends. Many car accidents in work zones are caused by drivers who wait too long to merge into open lanes, causing them to run into work zone barrels, equipment, and workers.
- Obey Traffic Signs – Drivers must obey all posted traffic signs in a roadway work zone. Most work zones use signs, flaggers, barrels or cones, and blinking caution lights to warn drivers of roadway work zones and workers nearby.