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Construction Work Zone Safety

construction work zone safety

We want safe roads to travel on. That means when it is time to fix or upgrade our roadways, work zones are set up which can change traffic patterns, narrow lanes of traffic, close highway exits, set up detours and other construction activities.

This often leads to motor vehicle accidents, serious injuries and sometimes even fatalities of drivers, passengers and work zone workers. It can also lead to serious injuries and fatalities for construction workers themselves through run overs, back overs and falls.

The springtime is when the Department of Transportation starts to plan for construction and maintenance activities that go into the summer and fall. So, as the planning and work starts to kick off, a National Work Zone Awareness Week (NWZAW) is held to bring attention to motorist and worker safety, encouraging safe driving through these work zone areas.

Work Zone Safety: Everybody’s Responsibility

Drivers, bikers, motorcyclists, and pedestrians should always be alert, obey traffic laws and signs, and pay attention to their surroundings.

Passengers should always buckle up, act responsibly and avoid distracting the driver.

Field workers must always implement safety best practices when actively working in construction zones.

Police and courts are responsible for enforcing traffic and work zone laws.

Federal Highway Administration Fact Sheet [pdf]

Work Zone Traffic Controller

Construction Work zone safetyConstruction work zones can be hazardous not just for those who drive through them, but also for those who work in them.

One of the most dangerous jobs on a work zone construction site can be that of the flagger or traffic control person. This is the person responsible for directing traffic and keeping motorists, pedestrians and other workers on the site safe.

Drivers, often frustrated with the slow traffic through construction work zones, may try to speed through the zone or they may be distracted by other things as they are driving. With little room for error in these zones, a driver may not see a flagger and accidentally hit him or her with the vehicle.

The flaggers themselves can also be distracted making them less likely to notice potential hazards, accidentally exposing themselves to the potential for serious injuries.

The Statistics from MoDOT

  • In 2017, 13 people were killed in work zone crashes on state system routes and an additional three on the local system, for a total of 16 fatalities.
  • Between 2012 and 2017, 50 people were killed in work zone crashes on state system routes and an additional nine on the local system, for a total of 59 fatalities.
  • Between 2012 and 2017, 2,844 people were injured in Missouri work zones on state system routes and an additional 965 on the local system, for a total of 3,809 injuries.
  • Since 2000, 19 MoDOT employees have been killed in the line of duty, 13 of them taking place in work zones

Source: Missouri Department of Transportation

Slow Down and Move Over Law

The law is simple: If you see flashing lights on the side of the road, move over to give workers and emergency personnel plenty of room to stay safe.

Read more about what this law means: Hit a Worker Law & Penalties


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