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National Work Zone Awareness Week starts Monday

‘Safe Work Zones for All’ theme proclaims ‘We Can Do It!’

National Work Zone Awareness Week begins Monday and though people across the country aren’t using the roads nearly as much these days because of COVID-19, roadway workers are still out there. Their work is deemed essential and continues to put them at risk.

This annual event, which runs from April 20-24, highlights the risks to roadway workers and seeks to heighten attention to common issues such as distracted driving, which the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) said claimed the lives of 2,841 people in 2018 and comes down to three problems: taking our eyes off the road, our hands off the wheel, and our minds off of driving.

ATSSA President & CEO Stacy Tetschner says in this video that we can put an end to work zone accidents but that means we must all do our part.

National Work Zone Awareness Week (NWZAW) begins with Work Zone Safety Training Day on Monday. That day emphasizes the importance of laying the groundwork for safety through training of personnel. Companies are encouraged, as possible with current restrictions, to pause during the workday for safety demonstrations, discussions about safety policies and other prevention steps.

The official kickoff event scheduled for Tuesday in Michigan was canceled because of the global pandemic. Michigan’s Department of Transportation (MDOT) was to host the event at the American Center for Mobility in Ypsilanti Township with speakers such as Gov. Gretchen Whitmer scheduled to participate. Instead, MDOT will host the 2021 event with Virginia’s Department of Transportation hosting in 2022.

Wednesday is Go Orange Day during which roadway safety professionals are encouraged to wear orange to show their support for work zone safety. Watch for our Twitter feed and the hashtag #Orange4Safety.

NWZAW highlights the importance of safe driving through work zones because of the risks of injury or death. In 2018, the most recent year for which statistics are available, 674 fatal crashes took place in work zones with 754 people getting killed, including 124 roadway workers, according to the National Work Zone Safety Information Clearinghouse.

The event started in Virginia in 1997 and became a national event three years later after ATSSA teamed with the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AAHSTO) to increase its exposure.

The safety awareness campaign has grown throughout the years and ATSSA member companies have taken the lead, hosting events and initiatives to support NWZAW across the country.

This year’s theme is “Safe Work Zones for All: Protect workers. Protect road users.” It features a poster reminiscent of the World War II poster with Rosie the Riveter. In her place are a male and female roadway worker proclaiming the message of the original poster: “We Can Do It!”

Michigan chose that image as a reflection of its industrial heritage. The original “Rosies” worked as riveters in an aircraft factory that built B24 bombers. Today that factory is the American Center for Mobility, an outdoor track on a 500-acre property where Connected and Automated Vehicles (CAVs) are tested.

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