VDOT shares close-call experiences during National Work Zone Awareness Week

People are asked to raise awareness about work zone safety by wearing orange April 13

It's National Work Zone Awareness Week, and VDOT is getting the word out to all Virginia drivers.

LYNCHBURG, Va. – It’s National Work Zone Awareness Week and VDOT is getting the word out about dangerous, close-call experiences on the road.

Kent Shelton, a VDOT employee for 33 years, says he was wearing his hard hat and safety reflector vest, 25 years ago, when he thought a driver was slowing down -- but didn’t and hit him.

“She was crying. She said, ‘I didn’t see you,’” said Shelton.

The 60-year-old says, luckily, he was not injured; but there are countless workers, like him, who have stories to share because accidents happen multiple times a day.

“You’ll see somebody that, obviously, comes rolling up and has not seen you until the last moment,” said Shelton.

“It can happen [at any second],” said Len Stevens, a VDOT spokesman representing the Lynchburg District.

Stevens says this week they’re spreading the message about safety for both crews and commuters.

“When you have an incident that takes you into a guardrail, maybe takes you into heavy equipment; the drivers and passengers in the vehicles are at risk, as well,” said Stevens.

According to a letter from a group of construction and safety leaders, including VDOT, there were 586 fatalities in the United States in 2010. By 2019, that number jumped to 842 -- a 43% increase -- and they say a lot of those cases involved drivers not paying attention.”

“Almost all of these deaths in work zones are preventable if we all just follow the rules,” said Stevens.

Stevens says you should be vigilant and keep your eyes peeled for workers, signs, and directions on when to slow down or stop.

It could be life-saving advice.

“Please pay attention for your safety, as well as ours,” said Shelton.

VDOT’s asking people to raise awareness about work zone safety by wearing orange Wednesday, April 13.

About the Author:

Tim Harfmann joined the 10 News team in September 2020 and works at the station's Lynchburg bureau.