According to the results of a new highway work zone study conducted by the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC), 44% of highway contractors reported that motor vehicles had crashed into their construction work zones during the past year, a 13% increase on 2016 figures.
For the new study, the AGC surveyed more than 700 contractors across the USA during March and April. Of the contractors that reported work zone crashes on their projects, 49% said that motor vehicle operators or passengers were injured, and 13% of those crashes involved a driver or passenger fatality. Highway work zone crashes also pose a significant risk for construction workers, with 25% of crashes injuring construction workers and 11% resulting in fatalities. Work zone crashes also have a pronounced impact on construction schedules and costs, with 27% of contractors reporting that incidents during the past year have forced them to temporarily shut down construction activity. Those delays were often lengthy, as 52% of those project shutdowns lasted two or more days.
Association officials said that a majority of contractors (82%) report that motor vehicle crashes pose a greater risk today than they did just 10 years ago. As a result of the study, the AGC has launched a new national advertising and outreach campaign to urge motorists to stay alert and slow down while driving through highway work zones, in a bid to help improve the safety of both drivers and highway workers.
The AGC campaign will include radio adverts to air in dozens of cities across the country, cautioning drivers to be careful in highway work zones. The ads warn drivers that speeding, texting and losing focus while in work zones are not worth the ‘nightmare’ of killing workers, drivers or passengers.
“There is no meeting, email or text that is more important than the safety of workers or motorists,” noted Stephen E Sandherr, the AGC’s CEO. “It is absolutely essential for every driver to slow down, pay attention, and put the phone down, while driving through highway work zones. With the summer travel season starting, our message to every motorist is this: when you see construction signs and orange barrels, take your foot off the gas, get off the phone, and keep your eyes on the road.”
AASHTO’s executive director, Bud Wright, commented, “We hope the startling results of this new survey can prompt greater public awareness and help improve safety practices by the driving public.”