Work Zone Awareness Week stresses driver safety in Delaware

This is National Work Zone Awareness Week and drivers are reminded to be alert to detours, changing traffic patterns and construction workers. (Delaware State News file photo/Dave Chambers)

This is National Work Zone Awareness Week and drivers are reminded to be alert to detours, changing traffic patterns and construction workers. (Delaware State News file photo/Dave Chambers)

DOVER — With warmer weather comes road construction.

In light of that and with this being National Work Zone Awareness Week, the Delaware Department of Transportation and AAA Mid-Atlantic are reminding drivers about the importance of observing extra caution while traveling through work zones.

National Work Zone Awareness Week is held in late March or early April each year at the traditional start of road construction season. The theme of Delaware’s work zone awareness campaign, which is this week, is “Don’t be that driver.”

“Now that winter is over and spring is here, DelDOT and its contractors are back at work on Delaware roads, and — thanks to an increase in the Transportation Trust Fund — travelers can expect to encounter more work zones throughout the state than they have in many years,” said Transportation Secretary Jennifer Cohan.

“A work zone is state and federal funds at work, repairing roads, performing maintenance, reconfiguring roads for safety, and striving to improve the state’s transportation network in general. A work zone is moms and dads and sons and daughters putting their lives on the line to serve the public interest.”

Recognizing the importance of traffic safety education, AAA Mid-Atlantic is again partnering with DelDOT to co-sponsor this year’s campaign.

Through its endorsement, DelDOT has been able to produce “Respect the Orange and Black”, a seven-minute public service video explaining the importance of work zone safety. AAA Mid-Atlantic also was able to secure the services of Philadelphia Flyer Claude Giroux to serve as spokesman for this video.

The video is available for all drivers’ educational courses, both adult and student throughout Delaware. New Jersey already is utilizing this video as an in-service training tool for its employees.

“The men and women working in road construction zones are making travel smoother and safer for drivers and everyone who uses Delaware roadways,” says Jim Lardear, director of Public and Government Affairs at AAA Mid-Atlantic.

“Nearly 85 percent of those killed in work zone crashes are drivers or their passengers. By slowing down, observing posted advisories and watching for changing driving conditions, motorists can keep themselves, their passengers and roadway construction workers safe in work zones. This video stresses the importance of proper driver behavior within work zones.”

Although highway workers are often among the victims of such crashes, it’s important for drivers to understand that four out of five victims of work zone crashes are actually drivers or their passengers. Generally, crashes occur when drivers speed through a work zone or do not pay attention to the changing road conditions and run into other vehicles, highway equipment or safety barriers, or drive off the roadway completely.

In a typical five-day work week, an average of seven motorists and one worker are killed nationwide. The primary causes of work zone crashes are following too closely and inattentive driving.

According to national statics, a subject struck by a vehicle traveling at 20 mph has a 5 percent chance of dying of their injuries. If the vehicle is traveling at 30 mph, the fatality rate jumps to approximately 40 percent, and then to 80 percent when a vehicle is traveling at 40 mph. Nearly 100 percent of patients will die if they are struck by a vehicle traveling at speeds greater than 50 mph.

Some tips for improving work zone safety include:

• When you see the “orange and black,” be extra cautious.

• Warning signs will let you know what to expect.

• Barrels or cones will delineate your path of travel.

• Flag people will help direct you along the way.

• Avoid distractions.

• Don’t tailgate.

• Don’t change lanes.

• Slow down and expect the unexpected.

Reach the Delaware State News newsroom at newsroom@newszap.com

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