Virginia motorists would be wise to slow down and pay close attention when navigating the state’s many construction zones because more and more Americans are dying and suffering serious injuries in crashes that occur in these areas.
The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration reports that work zone deaths rose sharply between 2018 and 2019. The uptick in work zone road deaths marks their biggest year-to-year increase since 2006.
Work zone fatalities
The number of deaths occurring in work zone car wrecks nationwide rose 11.2% between 2018 and 2019, with 842 work zone crash fatalities in 2019 and 757 such fatalities the year prior. In four out of every five fatal work zone crashes, the victims were drivers or passengers traveling in vehicles instead of pedestrians or construction workers working in the roadway.
Work zone wreck contributors
Many work zone wrecks, and fatal work zone wrecks, share similar characteristics. Many such crashes occur when motorists fail to recognize or account for changing road conditions. Many work zone car crashes also result from motorists driving while distracted. Often, drivers who are texting or otherwise using their phones behind the wheel wind up crashing into construction equipment, highway safety barriers or other drivers.
Sometimes, visual obstructions, such as construction vehicles, also contribute to car wrecks. Other construction-related hazards, such as loose payment or unclear signage or detours, also play a role in these crashes.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration now recognizes National Work Zone Awareness Week annually during the springtime. It does so to call attention to the rising number of crashes and fatalities occurring in these areas.