DENVER, Colo. — The 21st Annual National Work Zone Awareness Week is underway, a focused effort to remind motorists and workers alike on the need to be safe and remain vigilant through areas where road construction and maintenance operations are taking place.
This year’s theme of “Drive Safe. Work Safe. Save Lives” aims to remind drivers to prevent the often-tragic consequences of work zone crashes by slowing down, following road sign directions and paying attention to flaggers. It also encourages workers to stay safe by continuing to follow the rules and regulations designed to prevent deaths and injuries.
“Work zone safety is the responsibility of anyone who’s traveling through a location where roadway construction or a maintenance operation is occurring,” said CDOT Executive Director Shoshana Lew. “We’re asking the traveling public to remain diligent when coming up on work zones by giving the road your full attention: stay off your cellphone, look out for other vehicles, cyclists, pedestrians and other potential hazards, slow down, and please watch out for the people doing their jobs to build and maintain our roads.”
While highways workers are at great risk every day, it is just as critical for motorists to be safe and responsible in work zones. In fact, four out of five work zone fatalities are motorists, not roadway workers.
“Enforcement in work zones is a top priority for our troopers and for good reason, lives are more important than convenience,” stated Colorado State Patrol Chief Matthew C. Packard. “Motorists have to do their part to create a safe environment for workers and themselves. Whether it is reducing speed, merging safely, or concentrating on the road for activity, or lane adjustments, construction traffic is temporary, and moving through the zone is much quicker if crashes are avoided.”
Approximately 200 CDOT construction projects take place on the state highway system annually. Maintenance projects requiring lane, shoulder or ramp closures number about 25,000 per year.
A recent reminder on the importance of worker safety was the death of CDOT surveyor Steven Hagemann in 2020. He was struck by a hit-and-run driver while working on a pedestrian safety project in northwest Denver. His name was added to the Memorial Rock in front of CDOT’s Denver headquarters last year.
As part of NWZAW, CDOT is observing its 26th annual Remembrance Day via a virtual ceremony at https://youtu.be/ldhBSfSodbU on Thursday, April 29, at noon.
“We will continue to honor the memory of our departed colleagues each and every year, no matter the circumstances,” added Lew.
More information is available at nwzaw.org. Please follow @ColoradoDOT on social media during National Work Zone Awareness Week on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter for daily updates recognizing the safety efforts by #TeamCDOT.
Recent Work Zone Crash Statistics
· Fatal crashes: two year-to-date 2021
· Fatal crashes: 14 resulting in 14 deaths in 2020
· Fatal crashes: nine resulting in nine deaths in 2019.
· Crashes resulting in serious injuries in 2019: 49
· Overall crashes: 2,462 in 2019
NATIONWIDE (Per National Work Zone Safety Information Clearinghouse)
· Fatal crashes: 762 resulting in 842 deaths in 2019 (135 roadway workers killed in work zones)
· Roadway workers killed in work zone: 135 (Vast majority of work zone fatalities were motorists, passengers and pedestrians
· One work zone fatality occurs every 15 hours · One work zone injury occurs every 14 minutes