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/ Categories: ATSSA, NWZAW, Roadway

Gearing up for the 19th National Work Zone Awareness Week

April 8 is just around the corner, here are some tips to share to help increase roadway safety around work zones

Since the first official National Work Zone Awareness Week (NWZAW) event was held in 2000 in Springfield, Virginia, transportation agencies and roadway safety and infrastructure industry members have recognized the importance of practicing safe driving around work zones.

The spring event has promoted the critical need for more caution when driving through work zones to decrease crashes, fatalities, and injuries—especially at the start of construction season, when more work zones are present because of the warmer months.

The stories of work zone crash victims serve as important reminders that extra caution is necessary when work zones are present. Dennis Shenk, a work zone crash survivor with the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) said after he finished mowing on a side road, he was struck and injured on the job.

“There was a woman coming around the corner in a pick-up. All I know is it hit me when I was coming across the road. The next thing I know is that I woke up hanging from the seatbelt, my head was bleeding—I didn’t really know what was going on,” Shenk said.

“There are a number of ways to use extra caution in and around work zones,” said David Rush of VDOT—who was also a key individual in starting the NWZAW event. “There are still far too many incidents that leave roadway works injured, or worse, dead. It might seem innocent to speed a little or check your phone—but the results of these behaviors can end in tremendous tragedy. Just remember to use caution to keep others safe.”

Ten tips to remember when driving through a work zone

Expect the unexpected.

Road conditions may change overnight. Normal speed limits may be reduced, traffic lanes may be closed, narrowed, or shifted, and people may be working on or near the road.

Don't speed.

Speeding is one of the major causes of work zone crashes; obey posted speed limits.

Don't tailgate.

Motorists should keep a safe distance between their vehicles and other cars ahead, the construction workers, and their equipment. Rear-end collisions account for 30 percent of work zone crashes.

Obey road crew flaggers and pay attention to the signs.

The flagger knows what is best for moving traffic safely in the work zone. The warning signs are there to help motorists move safely through the work zone.

Stay alert and minimize distractions.

Motorists should dedicate their full attention to the roadway and avoid changing radio stations or using cell phones and other electronic devices while approaching and driving in a work zone.

Keep up with the traffic flow.

Do not slow down to "gawk" at road work.

Know before you go.

Check real-time traffic apps such as Waze, radio, TV, and websites for traffic information and schedule enough time to drive safely. Expect delays and leave early so you can reach your destination on time.

Be patient and stay calm.

Work zones aren't there as inconveniences. Remember, the work zone crew members are working to improve the road and commutes for all roadway users.

Wear your seatbelt.

It is your best defense in a crash.

2019 National Work Zone Awareness Week, April 8-12, 2018

This year, the 20th kick-off event will be held in Washington, D.C. and will be hosted by the District Department of Transportation on April 9.

This year's NWZAW theme is " Work Zones: Drive Like You Work Here.” Remember to wear orange on Go Orange Day on April 10. Use #orange4safety and #NWZAW in social media posts and don't forget to tag us: @ATSSAHQ on Twitter and @ATSSATraffic on Facebook. For more details about the NWZAW, visit

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