Deaths in Construction Zones RiseAuthor/Presenter: Salant, Jonathan D.
The number of people killed in highway work zones is at an all-time high, as orange cones proliferate on crowded roads and harried motorists ignore signs warning them to slow down. Most of those killed in work zone crashes were occupants of vehicles that collided with other cars or ran into construction equipment alongside the highway. Between 1995 and 1999, motorists accounted for 84 percent of work zone fatalities. Even though motorists die most often, the people who most fear work-zone accidents are construction workers. Almost every state reports at least 100 work zones at a given time, according to the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials. Virginia alone has had as many as 600 at a time. From reduced speed limits to warning signs reading, “Slow down. My mommy works here,” state transportation agencies have been trying to curb the growth in fatal accidents. They are doubling fines for speeding; requiring that more work be done at night when traffic is lighter; installing more message signs to warn motorists about the work; trying to keep all lanes open through a work zone to keep traffic moving; and even closing a road entirely in order to speed construction along. Meanwhile, motorists keep speeding by.