Last month was officially dedicated to Work Zone safety awareness, but a recent event makes it clear that we need to elevate Work Zone safety 365 days a year.
Nationally, fatal work zone crashes rose 46% between 2010 and 2020. Over the last five years in Minnesota (2018-2022), preliminary data shows 44 people died and more than 3,682 people were injured in work zone traffic crashes.
On March 22, we tragically added to the national tally for 2023 when six workers were killed in an I-695 work zone near Baltimore. In a recently released National Transportation Safety Board report, investigators said the 54-year-old driver of the car that killed the six highway workers entered an opening in the concrete barriers. The driver’s access point was meant for construction workers who needed to get in and out of the work zone. Not only was this a tremendous loss of life, the families, friends and co-workers of each of these six men are forever shattered.
We can’t stress enough the importance of slowing down and remaining distraction free around roadside work crews – and there are a lot of them. The Minnesota Department of Transportation released its 2023 construction season projects plan earlier this month. It maps out 223 construction projects for our state’s roads, bridges and other areas, such as airports, water ports, railroad crossings and transit. And while that’s slightly fewer projects than 2022, that’s still a lot of stretches of roadway under construction. Add in county and municipal projects – gotta get those potholes filled! – utility work and other repairs, we’ve easily got thousands of working individuals at risk each day. Whether or not it’s Work Zone Safety Week, we’re ready with the DriveSafeMN resources you need to educate your team and others on the importance of safe driving in work zones.
Impairment – like cell phone use and driving while under the influence of alcohol or other substance – is a major factor in work zone crashes and all crashes. This year, we’re taking on impairment big time. Watch later this month for the launch of “Impaired is Impaired,” our three-month campaign which coincides with the “100 Deadliest Days of Summer” a dangerous time on our roads from Memorial Day to Labor Day. We’re excited about the ways we’ll be telling this story and the tools we’ll have for you.
Warmer weather also means special emphasis on keeping kids safe as they ride bicycles and enjoy other outdoor play. Our Parents Checklist for Childhood Traffic Safety can help.
Enjoy these lovely late spring and early summer months, but stay safe!