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United States Department of Transportation United States Department of Transportation

Work Zone Fatalities at Highest Level Since 2006, New Data Show

Tuesday, April 27, 2021

FHWA 09-21
Contact: Neil Gaffney
Tel: 202-366-0660

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Transportation’s (USDOT) Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) joined state Departments of Transportation and other organizations nationwide today to urge drivers to keep highway workers safe as construction activities increase. They also urged the public to wear orange on April 28 for a national “Go Orange” Day to show their support for highway workers.

In 2019, the most recent year for which data are available, 842 people died in highway work-zone crashes compared to 757 the year before. The 11.2-percent increase is the largest percentage increase of highway work zone fatalities since 2006.

“We all have a role to play when it comes to safely repairing and improving our nation’s roads, bridges and highways,” said Acting Federal Highway Administrator Stephanie Pollack. “If you are driving and see construction work ahead – and especially workers on the job – please slow down and drive carefully.”

Crashes in highway work zones happen most frequently when drivers are not paying attention to changing road conditions. Distracted driving is a key element of many crashes, leading many drivers to crash into other vehicles, highway equipment or safety barriers. 

Though highway workers are often among the victims of work zone crashes, the dangers of reckless driving more often affect those behind the wheel and their passengers. Four out of five work zone fatalities were drivers or passengers, according to FHWA data.

“The men and women fixing our nation’s highways deserve to get to work, do their job and return home safe and sound after their shift,” said Pollack. “They can’t work safely if you don’t drive safely.”

FHWA has supported work zone safety efforts for more than 20 years and, since 2005, awarded more than $40 million in grants to states for specialized work zone safety training. To date, nearly 4,300 courses have been provided to over 120,000 state and local DOT personnel or other transportation agency staff.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) will also support National Work Zone Awareness Week, in part by launching safety awareness efforts in Florida, Georgia and Texas which experience the some of the highest rates of work zone crashes involving large trucks in the country. FMCSA has also developed fact sheets, post cards and shareable social media infographics for safety partners to help amplify work zone messaging. For more information and shareable resources on FMCSA’s 2021 work zone safety campaign, visit https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/ourroads/work-zone-safety-shareable-material.

For more information on this year’s National Work Zone Awareness Week, visit https://www.ops.fhwa.dot.gov/wz/outreach/wz_awareness.htm, follow @USDOTFHWA on Twitter, and use hashtags #NWZAW, #NWZAW2021, #Orange4Safety and #OrangeForSafety.

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