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In Work Zones, Expect the Unexpected Photo: Joe Raedle, Getty Images

In Work Zones, Expect the Unexpected

Each year, about 90 roadway workers are killed in work zones.

For roadway workers, workplace safety isn’t just about performing the job safely; it’s about performing the job safely while watching out for motorists.

In a way unlike other industries, roadway workers are vulnerable.

Annually, about 600 people, 90 of whom are roadway workers, die in roadway work zones.

Of those worker deaths, 60 percent occur when a worker is struck by a motorist or construction vehicle. And 70 percent of the struck-by deaths are the result of motorist intrusions, according to OSHA.

For that reason, March 23-27 is National Work Zone Awareness Week, an annual event to raise awareness of the dangers of roadway work.

The theme of this year’s awareness week is “Expect the Unexpected.”

The Travelers Companies offers the following tips for motorists to keep roadway workers and themselves safe:

  • Be prepared for the unexpected. Things can change quickly in work zones. Slowed or stopped traffic, a traffic lane closure or equipment and workers on the roadway are all possible.
  • Slow down. More than one-third of fatal accidents in work zones are caused by speeding. Obey the posted speed limit, even if you do not see any work currently in progress. 
  • Keep a safe following distance. Rear-end collisions account for 30 percent of work zone accidents. Keep a safe distance between you and other cars and construction workers and equipment to help avoid accidents.
  • Obey road crew flaggers and road signs. Flaggers and warning signs are there to help all drivers move safely through the work zone.
  • Stay alert and focused. Your full attention should be on the road. Multitasking while driving is never recommended, especially through a work zone. 
  • Keep up with traffic. Do not slow down to watch the roadwork.
  • Plan ahead. Before hitting the road, check a traffic report for delays. Be sure to plan enough time to help you reach your destination on time.
  • Be patient. While roadwork can be an inconvenience, remember that the crews are working to improve roads and make everyone’s drive safer.
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