Safety and health newsletter for the Oregon construction industry

May 14, 2012

driving in a construction zone

Speed and distraction are deadly combinations when drivers enter construction work zones

With Memorial Day coming up on May 28, it's a good time to remind drivers to slow down and pay attention – especially in work zones.

Nationwide, 9,900 people have died in work-zone crashes over the past decade, according to a study by the American Society of Civil Engineers. Roadway construction zones are certainly a dangerous place to work, but what many folks don't realize is that 80 percent to 85 percent of the deaths in work zones are motorists or passengers. Worker fatalities comprise the remaining 15 percent. Less than a quarter of these deaths are due to workers being struck by highway vehicles.

The most common traffic accident in highway construction work zones is a rear-end collision, typically caused by a sudden change in the routing of vehicles through the work zone and abrupt reductions in vehicle speed. In many highway work zones, lanes are narrowed, shifted, and merged, often with minimal warning to drivers.

More to read on vehicle safety from Oregon OSHA


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