The Georgia Department of Transportation (Georgia DOT) is observing National Work Zone Awareness Week April 11 – 15. This year’s theme is “Work Zones are a Sign to Slow Down”. Each spring Georgia DOT and other departments of transportation across the country observe National Work Zone Awareness Week to educate motorists about the dangers of work zones and to remind drivers to plan, minimize distractions and slow down when driving through work zones.
This annual observance sheds light on the real dangers faced by Georgia DOT workers and contractors as well as drivers, passengers and pedestrians traveling through work zones in Georgia. In fact, a large majority of work zone fatalities are not workers but are others passing through work zones, in crashes that are largely preventable.
Georgia DOT manages the 10th largest transportation network in the nation with the safety and mobility of its citizens top of mind. An unfortunate consequence of this civic responsibility is that the construction and maintenance workers charged with maintaining Georgia’s state and federal highways are often confronted with life-threatening dangers and frightening near-misses at work zones.
“There were 63 fatalities in Georgia’s work zones in 2021, a continued upward trend compared to the 51 deaths in 2020 and the 37 deaths in 2019,” said Russell R. McMurry, Commissioner of Georgia DOT. “This rise in fatalities is unacceptable and must be reversed. We must do more to eliminate work zone fatalities and it starts with educating everyone about the dangers that exist at work zones.”
Since 1973, when record-keeping began, more than 60 Georgia DOT employees and contractors have died in work-zone related incidents.
In 2021, there were:
- 12,300 work-zone related crashes in Georgia resulting in 4,027 injuries, and 63 fatalities
- 54 percent of those work zone crashes were roadway departure and rear end crashes
- 17 fatalities involved commercial motor vehicles
- 7 were pedestrian fatalities
“We all share in the responsibility of work zone safety,” said Commissioner McMurry. “Many of the injuries and fatalities at work zones can be prevented by slowing down, paying attention and following Georgia’s laws of the roadway.”
Georgia DOT offers these TIPS FOR APPROACHING AND DRIVING IN WORK ZONES
- Don’t Cut Their Stories Short. Obey the rules of work zones: (1) Pay attention (2) Slow down (even in lighter than normal traffic) (3) Watch for workers.
- Expect the Unexpected. Things may change quickly. Normal speed limits may be reduced, traffic lanes may be closed, narrowed, or shifted, and people may work on or near the road.
- Slow Down. Don’t Tailgate. Speed is a factor in many crashes. Keep a safe distance between you and the car ahead of you and move over a lane to provide additional space for the construction workers and their equipment.
- Obey Road Crew Flaggers and Pay Attention to Signs. Failure to obey speed limit signs or a flagger’s traffic control directions can result in hefty fines and/or imprisonment imposed by law enforcement.
- Stay Alert and Minimize Distractions. Pay full attention to the roadway and avoid changing radio stations or using cell phones and other electronic devices while driving. Remember, Georgia is a hands-free state for mobile devices while driving.
- Keep Up with Traffic Flow. Do not slow down to gawk at road work.
- Know Before You Go. Expect delays, leave early and schedule enough time to drive safely. For 24/7 real-time traffic information, call 511 or visit www.511ga.org before you get into the car. And follow Georgia DOT on Twitter for additional updates.
- Be Patient, Stay Calm. Crews are working to improve the road and to make your future drive better.
- Wear Your Seatbelt. It is your best defense in a crash. And make sure your passengers are buckled up, even in the back seat of the vehicle.
Work zone safety is everyone’s responsibility. Please – help us in the effort to reduce the number of injuries and fatalities at work zones across the state of Georgia, not only during Work Zone Awareness Week, but every week where workers are working in their offices in and along the roadsides.
To learn more about work zone safety and its importance to Georgia DOT, please read Commissioner McMurry’s expanded thoughts on the topic here.