ATLANTA — Building and maintaining the state’s critical transportation infrastructure is essential for mobility, sustainability and – most importantly – safety for travelers moving within and throughout the state, according to the state Department of Transportation.
This type of essential work generates active work zones where construction and maintenance workers regularly face life-threatening dangers and frightening near misses in their roadway offices. To bring needed attention to work zone risks, Georgia DOT is observing National Work Zone Safety Awareness Week through Friday. This year’s theme is Drive Safe. Work Safe. Save Lives.
Each spring, Georgia DOT and departments of transportation across the country observe National Work Zone Safety Awareness Week to educate motorists about the dangers of work zones and to remind drivers to slow down, move over a lane, pay close attention and take extra precautions when driving through work zones. This annual observance sheds light on the real dangers faced by workers as well as drivers and passengers.
“We still have a lot of work to do to reduce work zones injuries and fatalities or better yet, eliminate them entirely,” Georgia DOT Commissioner Russell R. McMurry said. “This year’s theme, Drive Safe. Work Safe. Save Lives., helps educate everyone about the perils we all face in work zones — whether we drive through them or work in them. That near-miss this time, could be loss of life and many lives changed forever next time.”
Last year Georgia DOT introduced motorists to real Georgians who work in work zones through the agency-produced video “Don’t Cut Their Stories Short.” In this year’s sequel, “Don’t Cut Their Stories Short: Near Misses,” motorists will learn more about those same workers as they share additional stories from their roadway offices and their harrowing experiences of near misses in work zones.
Since 1973, when record-keeping began, more than 60 Georgia DOT employees and contractors have died in work zone related incidents.
In 2020, there were:
♦ 17,297 work zone-related crashes in Georgia;
♦ 5,123 injuries, and 24 fatalities;
♦ 53 percent of those work zone crashes were roadway departure and rear end crashes;
♦ 7 fatalities involved commercial motor vehicles;
♦ 2 were pedestrian fatalities.
“Everyone deserves to make it home safely to their loved ones,” McMurry said. “I urge everyone to take work zones seriously and understand that many of these incidents are preventable by taking simple precautions, like driving the speed limit, paying strict attention to the road and following Georgia laws — especially in work zones.”
Tips for approaching and driving in work zones
♦ Don’t Cut Their Stories Short. Obey the rules of work zones: (1) Pay attention (2) Slow down (even in lighter than normal traffic) (3) Watch for workers.
♦ Expect the Unexpected. Things may change quickly. Normal speed limits may be reduced, traffic lanes may be closed, narrowed, or shifted, and people may work on or near the road.
♦ Slow Down. Don’t Tailgate. Speed is a factor in many crashes. Keep a safe distance between you and the car ahead of you, and move over a lane to provide additional space for the construction workers and their equipment.
♦ Obey Road Crew Flaggers and Pay Attention to Signs. Failure to obey speed limit signs or a flagger’s traffic control directions can result in hefty fines and/or imprisonment imposed by law enforcement.
♦ Stay Alert and Minimize Distractions. Pay full attention to the roadway and avoid changing radio stations or using cell phones and other electronic devices while driving. Remember, Georgia is a hands-free state for mobile devices while driving.
♦ Keep Up with Traffic Flow. Do not slow down to gawk at road work.
♦ Know Before You Go. Expect delays, leave early and schedule enough time to drive safely. For 24/7 real-time traffic information, call 511 or visit www.511ga.org before you get into the car. And follow Georgia DOT on Twitter for additional updates.
♦ Be Patient, Stay Calm. Crews are working to improve the road and to make your future drive better.
♦ Wear Your Seatbelt. It is your best defense in a crash. And make sure your passengers are buckled up, even in the back seat of the vehicle.
Work zone safety is everyone’s responsibility. Please – help us in the effort to Drive Safe. Work Safe. Save Lives — not only during Work Zone Safety Awareness Week, but every week where workers are working in their offices in and along the roadsides across the state.
For more information about work zone safety and to view our videos, a fact sheet and download a poster visit www.dot.ga.gov.