To the Editor:
Each spring, the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) and other state DOTs recognize Work Zone Awareness Week to remind drivers of the importance of avoiding distractions and driving safely through work zones. We invite you to join VDOT as we promote our theme this year, “Work Zones are a Sign to Slow Down”, for National Work Zone Awareness Week, April 11-15. This week is a reminder that work zone safety is a community effort and everyone’s responsibility.
Our employees and contractors put their lives on the line in work zones every day while working to improve travel for motorists in Virginia. This is true in mobile operations like mowing, paving and plowing snow, as well as in our established work zones for long-term construction projects like the widening of I-81 in the Roanoke Valley, the construction of the New River Bridge at exit 105 in Montgomery County, the realigning of Route 460 near Montvale in Bedford County, and the widening of Route 58 at Lover’s Leap Mountain in Patrick County. Although signs, cones and safety vests can be effective in warning motorists of a work zone, these tools are no protection against a fast-moving vehicle or an inattentive driver.
Did you know…
- The statistics between 2020 and 2021 increased at an alarming rate. With a 41% increase in crashes in 2021, fatalities within a work zone increased by 155% and injuries increased by 20%.
- Every time a driver takes their focus off the road — even for a moment — they put their lives and the lives of others in danger. Distracted driving crashes within a work zone increased by 27% last year.
- In addition to the dangers posed to highway workers, motorists are also at risk. Many work zone deaths are motorists, not workers.
All motorists — whether a seasoned driver or someone new behind the wheel — should follow these instructions when driving through a work zone:
- Work zones are a sign to slow down.
- If you see the orange work zone warning signs, be alert for changing conditions ahead.
- Eliminate distractions and stay aware of your surroundings at all times.
- Follow Virginia’s phone down and move over laws.
In addition, to show support for National Work Zone Awareness Week, VDOT encourages you to participate in these activities during the week:
- Watch live on Tuesday, April 12 at 1:30 p.m. as Virginia hosts the national event for Work Zone Awareness Week at https://www.youtube.com/c/VDOTLIVE.
- Wednesday, April 13 is national “Go Orange Day.” Everyone is encouraged to wear orange in support of work zone safety across the country. Share your pictures with us on Twitter and Facebook! #GoOrangeVa
- Follow us and share our VDOT Salem District group page on Facebook at www.facebook.com/groups/VDOTSalemand ReTweet with us @VaDOTSalem.
Be a part of the community committed to keeping our roads and work zones safe for everyone. Let’s work together to all arrive at home safely each and every day.
Ken King, P.E.