Each year during National Work Zone Awareness Week, Flagger Force and other industry partners come together to honor and recognize the work road construction crews do every day to support our nation’s infrastructure. From residential roads to major interstates, work zones can be found everywhere, ensuring that we all have the critical resources to make life easier for everyone.

NWZAW was developed over 25 years ago to educate communities on the importance of driving safely, limiting distractions, and following posted speed limits so we can all go home safely at the end of the day. You can read more about the history of NWZAW here.

The slogan for this year’s event was Work Zones are Temporary. Actions Behind the Wheel Last Forever.

For the 2024 campaign, Flagger Force supported multiple events throughout the eastern United States to raise awareness and honor two of our own who were tragically lost due to preventable incidents. You will also see how our nearly 2,000-employee workforce came together virtually to share important safety messages and ensure that they were keeping their communities moving.

Pennsylvania: Harrisburg Event on April 15

To kick off NWZAW in Pennsylvania, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT), the Pennsylvania Turnpike, the Pennsylvania State Police (PSP), and the Associated Pennsylvania Constructors (APC) hosted an event outside of the state capital in Harrisburg on Monday, April 15. This event shared important messages for motorists when approaching work zones. Speakers included:

  • Mike Carroll, PennDOT Secretary
  • Craig Shuey, PA Turnpike CEO
  • Colonel Christopher Paris, PA State Police Commissioner
  • Bob Latham, Associated Pennsylvania Constructors Executive Vice President

Each shared why it is important that motorists slow down, avoid distractions, and pay attention while driving through work zones. Col. Paris stated during the event, “When PSP investigates work zone crashes, troopers find that nearly all were preventable.” He adds, “The most common factors attributing to work zone crashes were driving too fast for conditions, careless passing/lane change, tailgating, and distracted driving.”

In 2023, PennDOT reports that there were 1,216 work zone crashes, resulting in 22 fatalities.

On display in Soldier’s Grove were the PennDOT and PA Turnpike worker memorials for those who have lost their lives as a result of accidents while on the job. The PA Turnpike also displayed its automated speed enforcement vehicle to show the technology utilized to ensure motorists follow the posted speed limits while in work zones. PennDOT also had some attenuators that were impacted by vehicles, showing they did what they were designed to do: protect the workers.

PennDOT shared that work zone safety messages would be displayed throughout the week on major highways’ message boards to remind motorists to slow down in work zones.

Sadly, during this critical week, on Wednesday, April 17, there was a fatal crash on Interstate 83 in York County, PA, in which a box truck struck and killed three construction workers completing night work. While this crash is still under investigation as of the publication of this blog post, it serves as a reminder that no matter how many safety messages, advanced warning signs, or lighting, there is a potential unawareness of the importance of work zones. Flagger Force extends their condolences to those involved in the incident and hopes that this will drive more action in Pennsylvania to protect workers.

Maryland: Honoring Lives Lost

The Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT) and the Maryland State Highway Administration (SHA) were selected to host the national NWZAW kick-off event alongside members of the American Traffic Safety Services Association (ATSSA). The event, held on Tuesday, April 16, was hosted at the interchange of Interstate 695 and 70, where in 2023, six construction workers lost their lives due to speeding vehicles intruding into a work zone. While there is still an active investigation into the cause, the Maryland state government, Maryland Transportation Builders & Materials Association (MTBMA) members, and other partners took action by developing the Work Zone Safety Work Group.

During the press event, it was announced that a new public awareness campaign was launching this week, featuring famous Maryland residents such as Orioles catcher Adley Rutschman, Hall of Fame shortstop Cal Ripken Jr., and former Ravens star Torrey Smith, to build a “courtesy culture” between work zones and community members. Speakers also honored the six workers who were tragically lost in the April Francis Scott Key Bridge incident. The collapse, which is being investigated, brought more light to the serious dangers that work zone crews face in the various working conditions they must perform their duties. Whether it be on bridges or highways, the dangers are the same.

The event was concluded by a memorial ride organized by the MTBMA, which had over 350 participants with various vehicles to pay respect to those lost in the 2023 I-695 incident.

Flagger Force was honored to be able to provide a portable changeable message board (PCMS) at the entrance of the event for guests with the welcome message for NWZAW. We thank the Maryland SHA for including us in this event.

North Carolina: Flagger Force Remembrances

In September 2023 and January 2024, Flagger Force experienced two significant employee losses due to work zone incidents that could have been prevented if the drivers had been paying attention. These two employees, and then the critical injury of another, impacted Flagger Force significantly, as up until these dates, the company had never experienced a loss of an employee of this magnitude.

Flagger Force leadership hosted a “Stay Alert. Stay Alive.” event at their Winston-Salem office with speakers such as:

  • Joe Stewart, vice president of government affairs, North Carolina Alliance for Safe Transportation
  • Senator Vickie Sawyer, member of the North Carolina State Senate
  • Ken Thornewell, Jr. P.E., PTOE, state work zone traffic control engineer, North Carolina Department of Transportation

Vice president of risk and safety for Flagger Force, Luke Lazar, shared important reminders for motorists in North Carolina, such as fines, safety stats, and the significant impacts on families of losing their loved ones. Mike Doner, president and CEO of Flagger Force, pleaded with local law enforcement for more penalties for motorists who disobey work zones.

During the event, Mike also announced a new safety partnership with the North Carolina Alliance for Safe Transportation (NCAST). The partnership launched targeted messages with community members to think about the people in work zones and the families that they support. You can view the campaign videos here.

Employee Engagement

Beyond these events, Flagger Force employees got in on the support in various ways! Our over 2,000 employees posted and shared ways that they are supporting NWZAW.

Our employee communication app, ITZ, saw over 350+ posts with employees sharing photos of their work zones, wearing their “Stay Alert. Stay Alive” t-shirt, or just safety messages. We also saw 50+ posts specifically around Wednesday’s “Go Orange Day” activities. The Flagger Force teams rallied together sharing safety messages and photos of their job sites to stay connected even when not physically together everyday. 

Flagger Force would like to thank all of our partners for their support, collaboration, and commitment to safety not just during NWZAW, but every day. We hope to continue these important conversations for everyone to arrive home safe at the end of the day.