Virginia commemorates National Work Zone Awareness Week
VDOT will observe National Work Zone Awareness Week (NWZAW) starting today, Monday, April 11, through Friday, April 15, to recognize state employees and contractors who risk their lives each day to keep Virginia moving.
Throughout the week, VDOT will alert drivers to the trend of increasing highway work zone fatalities, which grew significantly from 11 fatalities in 2020 to 28 in 2021. The majority of lives lost in work zones are motorists, not road workers. Nationwide, 85% of those who died in a work zone were motorists or passengers.
“Work Zones are a Sign to Slow Down,” is this year’s theme, which was inspired by a VDOT crew leader in Bristol District. While highlighting the risk for highway workers, the theme also calls attention to a driver’s responsibility to reduce speed and pay attention to make work zones safe for everyone.
“Behind the barrels and signs, highway workers are standing inches away from traffic as they improve our roads. They are sons and daughters, husbands and wives, mothers and fathers. They are neighbors, coaches, and friends. Their mission is to keep you, your passengers, and cargo safe while traveling across the 125,000 miles of roadway in Virginia,” said Governor Glenn Youngkin. “I want all Virginians and visitors to arrive safely at their destination. Please slow down and pay careful attention at the first sign of a work zone.”
VDOT developed awareness materials for this year’s “Work Zones are a Sign to Slow Down,” campaign that seek to reduce work zone fatalities and injuries. Online resources explain the most common work zone signs and messages drivers will see when they are approaching and traveling through a work zone. These materials are being shared with transportation industry leaders, associations and other state transportation agencies, with a goal to save lives.
“This week, let’s recognize VDOT workers’ service and sacrifice to build, maintain, and operate our roads, bridges, and tunnels. Work zones can be challenging for motorists to navigate, with construction equipment, lane closures, and traffic pattern changes. We want to keep everyone safe, whether you’re working on the road or traveling on one,” said Secretary of Transportation Shep Miller.
VDOT’s workforce consists of more than 7,500 VDOT employees and contractors who are committed to the safety of the traveling public.
“The men and women of VDOT are working to improve and maintain roads that lead all Virginians home. Our crews and contractors want to go home at the end of the day, too,” said Virginia Commissioner of Highways Stephen Brich. “VDOT is leading a new effort to educate drivers on how to safely navigate a work zone not only to protect our employees and private partners, but all travelers in the Commonwealth.”
Since 1997, Virginia has been leading the way to raise awareness of the challenges both road workers and drivers encounter in a work zone.
VDOT will continue working with other state transportation departments, federal government agencies, national road safety organizations, private companies and industry leaders to educate travelers on work zone safety.
Join us in observing National Work Zone Awareness Week:
- Monday, April 11: Work Zone Safety Training Day. Start a conversation about safety.
- Tuesday, April 12: NWZAW Kick-Off Event featuring the Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel Expansion project.
- Wednesday, April 13: Go Orange Day. Wear orange and share your support of work zone safety by posting pictures on your social media accounts with #GoOrangeDayVA.
- Thursday, April 14: Social media storm. Help share the same work zone safety reminder as other DOTs across the country to amplify the message at 1 p.m. “When you approach a work zone, be alert while we work. REMEMBER: Work zones are a sign to slow down. Driving is the ONLY thing you should be doing behind the wheel.”
- Friday, April 15: Moment of silence at 10 a.m. to remember those who lost their lives in a work zone incident.
- Follow VDOT on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Show us your support by liking, sharing, and posting with the hashtag #NWZAW.
As the host transportation department for the 2022 National Work Zone Awareness Week kickoff event, VDOT will welcome guests on Tuesday, April 12, to one of the largest infrastructure projects in the country, the Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel Expansion Project.
Construction of the new two-lane twin tunnels across the Chesapeake Bay will create 28,000 jobs over the life of the project with a total economic impact of $5.3 billion for the entire Commonwealth.
The $3.8 billion project will increase capacity on Interstate 64 and enhance travel time reliability in a congested corridor along Virginia’s coastal area. It will also support the region’s emergency evacuation readiness by carrying eight lanes of traffic across the water.
In 1997, a group of VDOT employees in the Bristol District wanted to dedicate a week to raise awareness about work zone safety among all district employees before road work increased in the spring. Following the successful promotion of the first event, VDOT shared the idea to have similar messaging with other DOTs to promote a uniform set of safety tips. Since 1999, National Work Zone Awareness Week has been observed across the United States.
Tips to safely navigate work zones:
- Stay alert
- Slow down
- Use caution
- Follow the signs. Signs and flaggers will direct you through work zones. Expect changes in traffic patterns as a project progresses.
- Watch out for workers and slow-moving equipment
- Allow extra space between your vehicle and the one in front of you
- Expect speed limits to vary in work zones. Enhanced fines of up to $500 may be levied for speeding in a work zone.
- Be patient. Crews are working to improve the safety and comfort of your travels.
- Never change lanes in a work zone
- Know before you go. Before starting a trip, visit 511Virginia.org for real-time information on traffic, lane closures, work zones and incidents. Download the free mobile 511Virginia app, or call 511 from any phone in Virginia.