Annual Work Zone Awareness Week promotes highway safetySafe drivers create safe work zones

Gov. Tony Evers proclaimed April 15-19, 2024, as Work Zone Awareness Week in Wisconsin. For nearly 25 years, National Work Zone Awareness Week has marked the start of construction season across the country, promoting road worker safety and cautious driving in work zones. This year’s national awareness week theme is “Work zones are temporary, but actions behind the wheel can last forever.”
The Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT) reminds motorists of the importance of safe, responsible driving – especially in work zones – as the 2024 construction season gets underway. In Wisconsin, work zones include highway construction and rolling maintenance operations as well as emergency response, municipal projects, and utility work along local roads. Every year there are typically more than 300 state highway and bridge improvement projects in Wisconsin.
“This year’s work zone safety theme is so poignant; it only takes a momentary distraction to create a deadly situation on the road,” said WisDOT Secretary Craig Thompson. “Construction crews are working day and night to improve our roads and bridges throughout the state. We must recommit to safe driving, especially in work zones – slow down, be patient, and avoid distractions.”
Preliminary data shows more than 2,100 crashes were recorded in Wisconsin work zones in 2023, resulting in 9 deaths and more than 700 injuries.
From 2019 to 2023, Wisconsin work zones saw more than 10,600 crashes, causing 64 deaths and more than 3,800 injuries.
Speeding, tailgating, and distracted driving are listed as common factors in a majority of crashes.
Cell phone use is one of the most common factors in distracted driving crashes. Wisconsin law prohibits texting while driving on any road. State law also prohibits use of a hand-held mobile device in work zones and in areas surrounding emergency response vehicles with flashing lights.
Drivers and passengers make up the vast majority of those injured or killed in a work zone crash, but workers remain at risk as well. Since 2019, there have been five worker deaths in work zones. An incident from 2022 involved a 25-year-old utility worker who was struck and killed while unloading equipment on the side of a road in Sauk County. Another incident in 2021 took the life of a 57-year-old Clark County highway worker, and another worker was injured, after being struck by a vehicle while removing a fallen tree during a storm.
How can people help?

  • Drive safely. Be courteous, avoid distractions, and obey posted speed limits.
  • Leave the phone alone. Texting while driving is illegal statewide and talking on a hand-held mobile device is illegal in work zones.
  • Move over, or slow down, when you see workers and vehicles with flashing lights along the highway. Wisconsin’s Move Over Law applies to maintenance operations as well as emergency response units.
  • Buckle Up, Phone Down. Take the pledge at wisconsindot.go​v/BUPD​and share your commitment with others. Participants are encouraged to share a thumbs up/thumbs down photo on social media using the hashtag #BuckleUpPhoneDown then challenge friends, family, and coworkers to do the same.
  • Show support for work zone safety with the social media hashtags #WorkWithUs, #NWZAW, #WorkZoneSafety, or #Orange4Safety (but please never text and drive).

A nationwide moment of silence is planned for Friday, April 19 for people who lost their lives in a work zone incident.

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