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National Work Zone Awareness Week promotes safety during road work season

1,547 Virginians were injured in work zone crashes in 2020

Officials are asking you to make sure you're paying attention
Officials are asking you to make sure you're paying attention

It’s that time of year again where you see more orange cones, barrels and signs on roads and highways. Before the road work season gets into full swing, VDOT is reminding everyone to be safe while in a highway work zone.

April 26 through 30 is National Work Zone Awareness Week.

State departments across the country use the week to make sure people know to slow down and pay attention while driving, especially in a highway work zone.

In 2020, 11 Virginians were killed and 1,547 were injured in work zone crashes. It’s a 35% decrease in deaths and a nearly 15% decrease in injuries compared to 2019, but there was less traffic on the roads in 2020 due to the pandemic.

VDOT spokesperson Jason Bond said they plan to put out extra messages on social media and already put a sign on US-581 near Valley View Mall in Roanoke to get the word out.

“Many times all that’s out there between the road and the highway worker is just a barrel or a cone so we need to folks to pay attention, minimize distractions and obey the rules when they’re passing through a work zone to keep themselves safe and to keep our workers safe,” said Bond.

He said people don’t realize it’s not just workers’ safety VDOT is worried about when it comes to work zone safety.

“Even though we are concerned about our highway workers it’s actually 80% of those killed in highway work zones are vehicle occupants. Even though we’re out there working and we’re at risk so are motorists as they drive through a highway work zone,” Bond said.

You can show your support for work zone safety by wearing orange Wednesday, April 28 for Go Orange Day. Take a photo and email it to photo@vdot.virginia.gov with the first names of people in the picture and the part of Virginia you’re in for VDOT’s Flickr album.

Here are additional highway work zone tips from VDOT:

  • Expect the unexpected. Keep an eye out for workers and slow-moving equipment.
  • Follow the signs. Signs and flaggers will direct you through work zones. Expect changes in traffic patterns as the project progresses.
  • Don’t tailgate. Unexpected stops frequently occur in work zones.
  • Don’t speed. Enhanced fines of up to $500 may be levied for speeding in a work zone.
  • Never change lanes in a work zone.
  • Focus and minimize distractions. Focus your full attention on the road and those traveling around you. Avoid changing radio stations, eating or using phones, even hands-free devices.
  • Be patient. Crews are working to improve the safety and comfort of your travels.
  • Know before you go. Call 511 for up-to-the-minute traffic and weather information from any phone in Virginia. Before you travel, log on to 511Virginia or check the free 511 Virginia mobile app for road and traffic conditions, weather forecasts and live traffic cameras on many major highways.

About the Author:

Megan Woods is thrilled to be back home and reporting at Local 4. She joined the team in September 2021. Before returning to Michigan, Megan reported at stations across the country including Northern Michigan, Southwest Louisiana and a sister station in Southwest Virginia.