Work Zone Safety will be target
of ITD outreach,
extending employee-appreciation focus

As road-construction season cranks up throughout the state, ITD is again bringing attention to the dangers in work zones and reminding motorists to drive carefully through them -- for their own safety and the safety of workers.

A national work zone awareness initiative was held in late April —- now that more drivers are coming to our roads and highways through the return-to-work effort, ITD is again spotlighting work zone safety in a statewide May 18-22 campaign.

In 2018, the most recent year for which data is available, 754 people died in highway work-zone crashes nationwide. In Idaho, there were 22 work zone fatalities from 2014-2018, with 2,258 crashes in work zones during that same time period.. Though highway workers are often among the victims of work-zone crashes, the dangers more often affect those behind the wheel and their passengers. Four out of five work-zone fatalities were drivers or passengers, according to data from the Federal Highway Administration.

Crashes typically occur as drivers speed through a work zone or do not pay attention to the changing road conditions and drive off the road, or run into other vehicles, highway equipment or safety barriers. Remember that there are higher fines for speeding in a work zone.

In addition to a statewide news release to the media with the safety reminder, outreach will also include the department's social-media tools - Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram. It will also include a reminder that our workers may not always be in well-marked work zones.

Along with larger road construction projects, which are typically well marked and have better visibility for drivers, the work of ITD’s highway maintenance crews also often includes a lot of Short Duration Operations. These can pop up anywhere, at any time. Whether it is a highway worker stopping to remove a shredded tire or animal carcass from the road, or performing maintenance work like repairing guardrail right next to the travel lanes, these jobs generally put workers closer to the road, and closer to danger. There is less time for the worker or the driver to take evasive action in those circumstances.

During this week, ITD also will take a moment to remember the sacrifices of the many workers lost over the years while on the job – many of them were killed in work zones.

Several videos will also be sent to the media as part of that outrech effort:

"Staying safe is intentional," ITD Safety Officer Randy Danner said. ""Work zones can be the most hazardous areas on our state highway system, but they don't have to be."

Published 05-15-20