OTW Safety

National Work Zone Awareness Week 2023

Cover image for NWZAW blog post with text "NWZAW 2023" over an image of a work zone

This year, National Work Zone Awareness Week (NWZAW) is April 17-21, 2023, and OTW Safety is proud to be participating once again in this incredibly important week of activities.

“National Work Zone Awareness Week (NWZAW) is an annual spring campaign held at the start of construction season to encourage safe driving through highway work zones. The key message is for drivers to use extra caution in work zones.”

This year’s NWZAW kick-off event will be hosted by the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) on April 18, 2023, with the theme “You play a role in work zone safety. Work with us.” OTW will be participating virtually and on social media to help promote work zone safety! Find the full list of events here.

History of the National Work Zone Awareness Week

In 1997, the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) had a group of staff members plan a week dedicated to raising awareness about work zone safety before construction got back into full swing during the warmer, summer months. This event was successful and was brought to the attention of other states’ departments of transportation in the hope that they would also participate. In 1998, VDOT brought the idea to the American Traffic Safety Services Association (ATSSA), who then presented the idea of a nationwide awareness week to the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and the American Association of State Highway Transportation Officials (AASHTO). 

An agreement was immediately developed, and the National Work Zone Awareness Week was born, focusing on these goals (according to the NWZAW website):

  • Initiate efforts to raise awareness of the need for more caution when driving through work zones to decrease fatalities and injuries;
  • Establish and promote a uniform set of safety tips;
  • The value of training and the importance of best practices in regard to work zone safety would be promoted among individuals in the private sector, industry, and roadway workers;
  • Reach out to both roadway workers and contractors to communicate possible effects of motorists’ behavior in response to traffic delays, and advise on what steps might possibly be taken to lessen negative behavior; and
  • Outreach efforts would be made to work with entities involved with work zone safety and to form partnerships.

The first national kickoff event for National Work Zone Awareness Week was held in 2000 in Springfield, VA, and the rest is history! 

Why OTW participates in NWZAW

Safety is OTW’s highest priority, and, as a founding member of the Utah ATSSA chapter, we see the value in bringing awareness to the general public about how they can help keep themselves and others safe when traveling through or near work zones. Too many accidents occur in these zones; in 2020, over 800 people were fatally injured in work-zone crashes across the country. While the death count of workers is still too high (117 in 2020), the majority of these fatalities were motorists and their passengers. It is imperative that those driving vehicles (and especially those approaching and traveling through work zones) are more alert, focused, and aware of their surroundings so that they can slow down and keep everyone safe. Bringing awareness to work zone safety is incredibly important, and we are dedicated to bringing work zone fatalities down to zero this coming National Work Zone Awareness Week and throughout the year. Safety is a year-round commitment and we are here for it! 

How can you (or your business) participate?

As the theme for this year’s NWZAW says, “You play a role in work zone safety. Work with us”! Each and every individual on the road plays a part in work zone safety. Whether that means you are putting away distractions so that you can drive more safely or your company hosts a comprehensive training day to highlight the importance of safety through training of personnel, you can be a part of bringing national awareness to the issue of work zone safety. Work zones are common occurrences, but fatal incidents shouldn’t be. 

How can you participate in NWZAW directly?

  • Host (or find out if your company is hosting) a Work Zone Safety Training Day on Monday, April 17. Resources to host your own can be found here.
  • Stream the kickoff event from the MoDOT webpage on Tuesday, April 18
  • Wear orange on Wednesday, April 19 for Go Orange Day (and post your selfies with the hashtag #Orange4safety).
  • Blast your social media(s) with awareness posts about work zone safety and use hashtags #NWZAW and #WorkZoneSafety on Thursday, April 20 between the hours of 9 AM and 4 PM EST.
  • Join us for a moment of silence to honor those who have lost their lives in work zone accidents on Friday, April 21. 

We look forward to participating in this important week with you! 

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