FRANKFORT, Ky. (KT) - The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet has announced this is Work Zone Awareness Week and asks drivers to participate by slowing down and driving without distractions, especially when workers are present.
Work zones are high-risk sites for work crews, but the safety of drivers and their passengers is also on the line. The number of work zone fatalities increased from three in 2018 to eight in 2019. Two of the victims were work crew members. The number of work zone crashes overall rose 20 percent from 1,042 in 2018, to 1,251 in 2019.
Federal Highway Administration statistics are in line with Kentucky’s work zone fatality numbers that indicate drivers are more at risk in a work zone. According to the agency, in an average five-day workweek, seven drivers and one worker are killed around the nation in work zone crashes.
Distracted driving is a leading cause of work zone crashes. Distracted driving behaviors include texting or operating a phone while driving, eating or applying makeup. Last year, 57 percent of work zone crashes listed distracted driving as a factor.
“This is the perfect opportunity to remind motorists of the importance of paying attention, not only when driving through work zones, but every time you’re behind the wheel,” said Kentucky Office of Highway Safety Acting Executive Director Jason Siwula. “Your safety, whether working within one of our work zones or just traveling through, is important to us. When you’re behind the wheel, please put your phone down and focus on driving.”
To promote safer work zones and to prompt a reduction in the number of preventable crashes, Gov. Andy Beshear signed a proclamation declaring April 20-24 Work Zone Safety Week in Kentucky. However, the state’s awareness week was postponed to September due to COVID-19.
To help prevent future work zone crashes, the transportation cabinet asks drivers to:
--Pay attention – Don’t text, eat or perform any other activity while driving.
--Respect flaggers – Obey their guidance and watch their direction carefully.
--Slow down – Maintain a safe following distance; rear-end collisions are the most common work zone crash.