At one time or another, all drivers encounter the unfamiliar traffic patterns and hazards posed by roadway work zones. In 2004, work zone crashes caused more than 1,000 deaths and nearly 50,000 injuries. The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA)estimates that highway construction will increase to meet new capacity demands and to address the deteriorating highway infrastructure. The number of teenage drivers also is increasing, both in absolute numbers and as a proportion of the driving population. Each year at least 2 million peoplemostly teenagersbegin driving. At the same time, motor vehicle crashes kill more teenagers than any other cause. In the 15- to 20-year-old age group, 32 percent of their fatalities occur in traffic crashes. According to the California Office of Traffic Safety, a 16-year-old is 20 times more likely to be killed in a crash than an adult, due in part to driving inexperience. In 1999 the U.S. Congress called upon the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) to create a work zone safety awareness and training campaign targeting young drivers.
Among the motivating factors were the limited attention to work zone safety in driver training curricula, the need to educate driving instructors about the existence of a national standard for uniform traffic control in work zones, and the challenge of reaching teen drivers with safe driving messages. The result was an FHWA partnership with the American Road & Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA) to develop and launch a safety campaign called Turning Point: Roadway Work Zone Safety for New Drivers. Through an interactive CD-ROM training tool, a safety video, a Web site, and collateral products, the campaign focuses on helping teenage motorists obtain the knowledge and skills they need to safely navigate the Nation's growing number of work zones.
Opiela, K.S., B.M. Sant,and J.A. Childers. Turning Young Drivers into Survivors. In Public Roads, Vol. 70, No. 2, FHWA, U.S. DOT, September 2006, pp. 12-17.