Wet Weather and Roadside Work Zone Safety
NES Safety Topic – April 14, 2017
Written by: Joe Mangiardi, NES, Inc.
As recent wet weather in California will likely lead to an increase in roadside construction, roadside work zone safety will be a major concern.
National Work Zone Awareness Week
We all have sped by roadside construction countless times in our travels, but seldom do we take a moment to consider the importance of roadside work zone safety Last week, April 3rd – 7th, was 2017’s National Work Zone Awareness Week. The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, the Federal Highway Administration, and the American Traffic Safety Services Association come together annually to increase the attention given to highway construction safety. This year’s theme emphasized the message that work zone safety is in the hands of the drivers.
The week of awareness is timed so that it coincides with the beginning of spring and the associated road construction season. After the historic amount of rainfall in California during the past several months, there will likely be more roadside construction than usual. And this means there will be more roadside construction workers to watch out for.
Roadside construction addresses various roadway issues and occurs on many different types of roads.
Naturally, roadside work zones present hazards to drivers and passengers, who historically make up the majority of work zone incident victims. But we must recognize that site workers are at the mercy of the drivers. In 2014 there were 119 roadside construction worker fatalities, as reported by the Federal Highway Administration, and in 2015 there were 130 (see FHWA Fact Sheet). Non-fatal work zone injuries were also on the rise between 2014 and 2015.
This video from the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) uses an actual case of two roadside work zone fatalities to emphasize the importance of work zone safety.
Work Zone Safety is in Our Hands
The remedy for this discouraging trend is clear: each and every one of us needs to exercise particular caution when approaching and passing through roadside construction zones. We need to protect ourselves as well as the highly vulnerable site workers. These workers labor to keep our roadways and bridges safe—let’s do our best to keep them safe as well!
U.S. DOT Federal Highway Administration Webpage: National Work Zone Awareness Week
American Traffic Safety Services Association Publication: National Work Zone Awareness Week
AASHTO Video: National Work Zone Awareness Week