National Work Zone Awareness Week is April 26-30, 2021
With the start of a new construction season, the Rhode Island Department of Transportation (RIDOT) is reminding motorists to reduce their speeds and drive safely in work zones to keep the thousands of men and women safe while working to repair our roads and bridges.
RIDOT’s annual effort to raise driver awareness of work zones coincides with National Work Zone Awareness Week, April 26-30. It also coincides with a national rise in work zone-related fatalities, up 11 percent with more than 840 people killed. Fortunately, RIDOT has not had any fatalities among its staff, or contractors, in many years.
“While we are grateful for the safety of our workers, our excitement about a new construction season is tempered with the sobering number of traffic fatalities we continue to see. This year brings added anxiety given a spike in traffic deaths last year and an above-average number of fatalities so far in 2021,” RIDOT Director Peter Alviti, Jr. said. “I implore drivers to do their part, to remain vigilantly watchful for construction zones and when you do come upon one, slow down and drive cautiously. Lives are at stake.”
Nationally, a work zone crash occurs every 5.4 minutes and each week there are 12 work zone crashes involving at least one death. A large majority of those killed, about 85 percent, are not the workers on the road, but the driver or passengers of the vehicle involved in the crash. In Rhode Island there were more than 900 work zone-related crashes last year.
In 2008, Rhode Island passed the “move over” law, which requires drivers to move over a lane when approaching a first responder stopped on the road. In 2014, the law was expanded to include construction and highway maintenance workers. Even if drivers can’t change lanes when approaching workers or first responders, the law requires them to slow down and leave as much space as possible between their vehicle and the stopped vehicles.
Safety is RIDOT’s highest priority, and all work zones are established with careful attention to safety and in coordination with national standards and best practices. RIDOT routinely inspects all work zones on state roads, not only involving the Department’s Highway and Bridge Maintenance Division, but those set up by contractors, bridge inspectors and utility companies. This interaction includes making sure work zones are set up correctly with repeat visits to make sure they remain in compliance.
RIDOT plans the timing and duration of work zones to reduce as much as possible the impact to traffic flow and travel time. Additionally, all planned work requiring lane or road closures is posted on RIDOT’s website at www.ridot.net/traveladvisories and real-time traffic incident information is available on RIDOT’s Twitter feed at www.twitter.com/RIDOTNews.