From April 23-27, the USA Federal Highway Administration celebrates National Work Zone Awareness Week along with State Departments of Transportation (DOT) and other government agencies. It is the 11th annual event which aims to bring national attention to motorist and worker safety as well as mobility issues in work zones.
Initially, it started as a small event in one district at Virginia Department of Transportation in 1997 and the following year, became a state wide event. In 1999, the ATSSA, FHWA, and AASHTO were on board and started the National Work Zone Awareness Week. Since then, each year a national event is held in a different location within Virginia, DC, or Maryland.
This focus on safety to the public and transportation employees has provided positive results. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Fatality Analysis Reporting System stated that work zone fatalities have decreased within the United States for the past 10 years. In 2002, 1,186 work zone fatalities occurred; this number dropped to 720 fatalities in 2008, showing a 39% decrease within 6 years.
Nearly all State DOTs participate in National Work Zone Awareness Week and take part in various initiatives to spread the word about safety.
The goal was to create public awareness of the dangers of traveling through work zones and encourage safe driving habits in work zones. This was completed through radio ads, public service announcements and work zone safety tips displayed at rest areas. There were even press conferences held in work zones and the reporters were invited to stand behind the concrete barriers to feel the speed of passing motorists.
WisDOT also publicizes safety using public service announcements and in 2008, released an 11-minute educational video that featured individuals who had been directly affected by crashes in work zones. This video was shown at an awareness event at the State capitol and WisDOT invited the surviving victims’ families to attend. WisDOT also lit up the capitol dome with orange lights, which served as a memorial to injured and killed workers.
Importance of Ensuring Safety
Providing safe conditions for transportation workers is extremely important. There have been too many cases of injury and even death which could’ve been prevented. Providing safe road conditions will ensure that transportation workers can effectively complete their tasks without fear or risks.
One method of increasing safety on the road can be applied in average daily traffic (ADT) data collection. This is typically captured through the deployment of road tubes. The main safety issue is the actual process of deploying and maintaining road tubes. In high traffic areas, this can be quite risky and should involve two individuals, one being a “spotter” for the other who is deploying. Regardless if another person is observing, not much can be done when unforeseen accidents occur.
To increase safety and eliminate the potential for accidents on the road, collect traffic data for ADT studies using Miovision’s Scout video collection unit. This non-intrusive unit can be setup easily by one individual within 10 minutes and doesn’t require anyone to enter into the roadway. It can be setup against any pole or street furniture. Maintenance or on-site supervision is not required so once the data is collected, a transportation professional can take down the unit and can be confident in the high accuracy of data.