This week we kick off Distracted Driving Awareness Month and it seems we are trending in the wrong direction. New NSC (National Safety Council) data shows our roads are the most dangerous they’ve been in years. On a typical day, eight people are killed and hundreds more are injured in distraction-affected crashes. Workers are also facing distraction on every trip—and this is certainly having an impact in construction specifically.
When looking at work zones, specifically, in 2019, 842 people were killed in 762 fatal work zone crashes. What many fail to recognize is the vast majority of people killed in work zone crashes are motorists and their passengers. In 2019, 135 of the 842 fatalities were work zone workers, making it all the more important for drivers to slow down and stay focused while approaching and passing through a roadway work zone.
Next week is National Work Zone Awareness Week, which aims to help raise awareness that work zones are a sign to slow down. This awareness campaign began in 1997 when a group of Virginia Dept. of Transportation staff members 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. The following year it was brought to other state DOTs (Departments of Transportation).
In 1999, the federal government got involved and developed an agreement that outlined the goals for the official National Work Zone Awareness Week. The hope here is to raise awareness, establish and promote a uniform set of safety tips, understand the value of training and importance of best practices in regard to work zone safety, reach out to both roadway workers and contractors to communicate possible effects of motorists’ behavior in response to traffic delays, and other outreach efforts.
While training, education, and safety policies are essential to ensure safety on our roads, technology can help in myriad ways.
Intelligent transportation systems can make travel through work zones safer. Some examples of technologies include dynamic lane merge systems, which use devices to control vehicle merging at the approach to lane closures; speed management systems, which can be used to help manage and enforce speed limits in work zones; and portable changeable message signs, just to name a few. Such technologies can be used for traffic monitoring and management, incident management, enhancing safety, increasing capacity, enforcement, planning, and more.
While these are just some examples, technologies can help make our roads a little bit safer. What technologies are you seeing that have helped?
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