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2019 National Work Zone Awareness Week

by Devyn Giannetti , Communications Specialist, Cuyahoga County Department of Communications
A group of construction workers standing next to a large truck.It may seem like road construction is taking place everywhere you look. Orange cones and yellow reflective vests are a common sight, especially as it starts to get warmer in Northeast Ohio. While it may seem a little annoying, road work ultimately takes place to make it safer and easier for you to get where you need to go.

This April 8th-12th is National Work Zone Awareness Week (NWZAW)—an event that takes place across the United States, with partnerships between state departments of transportation, national road safety organizations, government agencies and private companies. This year’s theme is “Drive Like You Work Here.” The theme aims to remind people that it is critical to use extra caution in and around work zones, and that regardless of where you work, we all deserve to arrive home safely. NWZAW promotes the importance of work zone safety and helps advocate for the men and women who risk their lives in work zones each day to keep our roadways safe.

In 2017, there were 710 fatal work zone crashes and 799 work zone fatalities, including 132 worker fatalities in the U.S., according to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Fatality Analysis Reporting System.

Two construction workers inserting bolts into a bridge platform.This also hits close to home—recently two contracted workers setting up a construction zone on Cedar Road were hit by a car, with one ultimately passing away. We extend our deepest condolences to the family and friends of David Sollars.

“Cuyahoga County works year-round to help maintain and improve roads and bridges in the county—over 800 miles of them,” said Director of Public Works, Michael Dever. “Over the past five years, we have administered an average of $45 million a year for road and bridge construction projects all over the county. Now that it’s officially construction season, it is imperative that everyone stay aware when on the road.”

NWZAW has helpful tips for drivers to stay safe driving through work zones:

1. Expect the unexpected. Road conditions may change overnight. Normal speed limits may be reduced, traffic lanes may be closed, narrowed, or shifted, and people may be working on or near the road.

2. Don’t speed. Speeding is one of the major causes of work zone crashes; obey posted speed limits.

3. Don’t tailgate. Motorists should keep a safe distance between their vehicles and other cars ahead, the construction workers, and their equipment. Rear-end collisions account for 30 percent of work zone crashes.

4. Obey road crew flaggers and pay attention to the signs. The flagger knows what is best for moving traffic safely in the work zone. The warning signs are there to help motorists move safely through the work zone.

5. Stay alert and minimize distractions. Motorists should dedicate their full attention to the roadway and avoid changing radio stations or using cell phones and other electronic devices while approaching and driving in a work zone.

6. Keep up with the traffic flow. Do not slow down to “gawk” at road work.

7. Know before you go. Check real-time traffic apps such as Waze, radio, TV, and websites for traffic information and schedule enough time to drive safely. Expect delays and leave early so you can reach your destination on time.

8. Be patient and stay calm. Work zones aren’t there as inconveniences. Remember, the work zone crew members are working to improve the road and commutes for all roadway users.

9. Wear your seatbelt. It is your best defense in a crash.

By following these easy and helpful tips, we can better ensure that everyone on the road gets home safely.