It’s National Work Zone Awareness Week! This annual campaign is held at the start of construction season to encourage safe driving through highway work zones. We support safety year-round, but this week we ask every highway driver to make it a top priority.
This week marks the 20th National Work Zone Awareness Week (NWZAW). This yearly mission was originally conceived by a group of Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) staff members in 1997. The group wanted to dedicate a week to raise awareness about work zone safety among all district employees before construction projects picked up during the warmer months.
Following the successful promotion of this first event, VDOT brought the idea of raising awareness to other Departments of Transportation. Then, in 1998, VDOT first presented the idea to create a national campaign to ATSSA officials. In December of 1999, American Traffic Safety Services Association (ATSSA) connected with the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and the American Association of State Highway Transportation Officials (AASHTO) to launch the first official NWZAW. They were on a mission to:
- 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.
- Emphasize the value of training and importance of best practices in regard to work zone safety 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.
- Make outreach efforts would be made to work with entities involved with work zone safety and to form partnerships.
Since its founding, the NWZAW has set yearly themes to emphasize the importance of highway safety in construction zones. This year, the NWZAW encourages you to “Drive Like You Work Here.” Imagine working in a place with large motorized vehicles speeding past you every second without any regard to your personal space or safety. Highway construction workers build the roads that help us safely travel from place to place. We owe them a safe place to work. Use extra caution on your commute as you pass by orange cones.
Speaking of orange cones, today is the perfect day to join the NWZAW mission. It’s “Go Orange Day!” Roadway safety professionals across the United States are wearing orange to proudly show their support of work zone safety – and you can too. Go Orange Day and NWZAW is an important time to show your support of the roadway safety industry, especially to the families of victims who have lost their lives in work zones.
Even if orange isn’t your color or you don’t know any highway construction workers personally, you can help improve work zone safety for all every day of the year. Use extra caution any time you pass by the orange cones of highway construction zones as if your brother, aunt, or friend is working there.
How will you #DriveLikeYouWorkHere? Let us know in the comments!