Over 600 fatalities occur every year in work zones around the nation, despite very successful efforts to minimize work zone safety hazards. These are some of the most problematic areas of roadways, and accidents are often attributed to driver inattentiveness, excessive speed and lack of proper highway safety equipment. Placement of the correct signs and barriers can be of great assistance in reducing fatalities and injuries in construction work zones.
Work zone safety starts with placing the proper equipment on roadways to warn drivers to slow down and be aware. For instance, one-lane traffic zones that are not staffed by full-time workers must have temporary traffic signals erected to direct traffic flow. Retroreflective signs in combination with safety devices can be installed to delineate work areas and protect workers. Speed limit signs notifying drivers of appropriate speeds to be observed in a work zone have also helped to save lives. The objective is to make a work area as visible as possible while informing drivers of their role in keeping workers safe.
On average, during the last half of the 1990’s, about 16% of fatalities in work zone crashes were pedestrians. For the most part, those pedestrians were people working within the designated work space who subsequently became victims of traffic accidents. Historically, speed is a factor in almost all work zone fatalities, an illustration that drivers simply drive too fast for conditions in the work zone. Posting consequences for drivers who violate traffic construction zone rules has been shown to be effective in gaining driver compliance. In some states drivers may receive a $7,500 fine and up to 15 years in prison for injuring or killing a road worker.
Hundreds of fatalities and thousands of accidents occur in work zones across the nation annually. These are largely a result of inadequate signage and ineffective instruction for drivers entering work zones. Properly placed signage and specialized highway safety equipment help to both warn drivers of dangerous construction areas and to educate them on how to navigate those dangerous areas.