Prevention of work zone related injuries and fatalities
The Washington DOT Work Zone Safety Task Force is dedicated to the prevention of work zone related injuries and fatalities. Established in August 1993, the task force was created to examine work zone safety on state highways as a result of continued concern for the safety of employees (WSDOT and contractors) and the public. The task force has been instrumental in many positive changes including increased safety training, better reflective gear for workers, intensified public education and outreach (through the Give `em a Brake campaign), and partnering with Washington State Patrol, whose presence in work zones has greatly increased safety. Members of the Work Zone Safety Task Force include WSDOT, WSP, and representatives from construction and labor.
Other on-going efforts within WSDOT include the education of new drivers through the distribution of an 8-minute video to high school and private driving education classes. The video, entitled “A Sudden Change of Plans,” not only discusses safe methods of traveling through work zones but also looks at the consequences of hitting a worker.
Various regional offices within WSDOT have taken video outreach one step further by actually having staff go into classes and frankly discuss with students what it’s like to work in a work zone and how it feels to lose a coworker in an incident.
Kicking off in May 2001, WSP and WSDOT began a new enforcement effort for violators. Traffic Safety Emphasis is a four-month pilot project to improve safety for both workers and motorists. Troopers will randomly target all major construction projects in King County, actively giving tickets to drivers breaking the speed limits. If the pilot project proves effective, Traffic Safety Emphasis will expand statewide.