Federal Highway Administration Urges Drivers to Protect Highway Workers

“National Work Zone Awareness Week” to Highlight Increase in Work Zone Fatalities for Third Year in a Row

Chicago, IL- - (April 10, 2018) - - Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) officials joined Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) Secretary Randy Blankenhorn and others to kick off “National Work Zone Awareness Week,” an annual effort to urge the public to protect highway workers by driving carefully through work zones on roads and bridges.

“Highway workers are our family members, our friends, and our neighbors,” said Acting Federal Highway Administrator Brandye L. Hendrickson. “Each of them matters, and their safety matters. As you drive, remember, work zone safety is everybody’s responsibility.”

Overall roadway fatalities increased in 2016, and work zone fatalities also increased, for the third year in a row. The 765 work zone fatalities that year were the most for a single year since 2007. In Illinois alone, there were 44 work zone-related fatalities in 2016, including eight involving workers.

National Work Zone Awareness Week is held each spring, as highway construction season resumes after the winter hiatus and the number of workers on roads and bridges increases. Though highway workers are often among the victims of such crashes, 80 percent of work-zone crash victims are drivers or their passengers.

During this year’s ceremony, officials honored the family of Ryan Nichols, an IDOT worker who died in a work zone crash in 2011.

The ceremony took place near Chicago’s Circle Interchange Project which, the state estimates, serves about 400,000 vehicles each day including 33,000 commercial trucks. Workers are making significant repairs to what is considered one of the most congested interchanges in the nation with on average over 1,100 crashes are reported each year.

Similar observances are taking place nationwide as state DOTs reach out to the public during the National Work Zone Awareness Week from April 9-13.

Since 2005, FHWA has supported these efforts and awarded more than $40 million in grants to develop and promote work zone safety training. To date, nearly 4,000 courses have been conducted for over 104,000 field workers, state/local DOT personnel and other transportation agency staff. FHWA’s Traffic Incident Management program has also graduated 300,000 professionals who have tools and knowledge that can make work zones safer.

For more information on National Work Zone Awareness Week, visit http://www.ops.fhwa.dot.gov/wz/outre..._awareness.htm .