It’s the 20th anniversary of National Work Zone Awareness Week (NWZAW), which is an annual spring campaign organized by the American Traffic Safety Services Association that encourages motorists to drive safely through work zones. This year’s theme is “Safe Work Zone for All. Protect Workers. Protect Road Users. We Can Do It!” Together, we can all do our part in flattening the curve of distracted driving.
NWZAW looks a little different than in years past. Though, most all of this year’s events have been canceled or postponed due to coronavirus (COVID-19), the message still remains true. And now more than ever, we can’t shout it loud enough. That is why during NWZAW, April 20-24, 2020, Flagger Force is reinforcing important reminders to drivers everywhere to slow down and avoid distractions while behind the wheel.
Work Zone Awareness Amidst COVID-19
Now more than ever, drivers need to Stay Alert. Stay Alive.™. As is the case in most emergencies, people are more distracted, especially while operating a vehicle. While we’re all focused on the COVID-19 health crisis and the economic impact it’ll have on our wallets and communities, the nation’s utilities and essential businesses work tirelessly to keep critical infrastructure maintained. Flagger Force is working alongside other essential workers to ensure communities are safe while on or near these work areas.
“We are here to support the essential needs of our utility and infrastructure partners so together, we keep our communities moving during these unprecedented times,” says Mike Doner, president, and CEO of Flagger Force. “Our employees consistently report witnessing drivers focusing on their cell phones while driving instead of the road. During times like this, where mental stress and anxiety are heightened, we are asking motorists, not just during NWZAW and this COVID-19 crisis, but every day to be more aware while driving and to focus on arriving at their destination safely and healthy.”
Importance of Work Zone Awareness
Statistics from the National Work Zone Safety Information Clearinghouse shows a total of 671 work zone crashes that resulted in 754 fatalities in 2018. 124 of those fatalities were road workers. The National Highway Transportation and Safety Administration report that in 2018, 2,841 people were killed while driving because of distracted driving. Also, in 2018, 97% of Flagger Force employees reported witnessing distracted driving, such as motorists using cellphones and watching videos.
Let’s face it, it’s easy to become complacent while driving, especially driving the same routes every day. According to the Smith System, 88% of drivers use their cell phones while driving and spend an average of 3.5 minutes each hour on their phones. And though there may be less traffic on the roads, the anxiety from the COVID-19 crisis produces even more distracted driving.
Our utilities and other essential businesses are critical. Traffic control is centered around public safety and protecting those maintaining the security of the essential infrastructure. In order to rely on the telecommunications, electricity, clean water, and everything else we’ve grown accustomed to, especially during times of uncertainty, traffic control must continue to shield that work from danger on and near the roadway. And Flagger Force will be on the front lines with our clients ensuring that the “new normal” we are coming to terms with as a community doesn’t impact our means to the very infrastructure, we all depend on.
Flagger Force is committed to continuing to educate drivers about the hazardous conditions in work zones. These safety messages urge drivers to:
- Slow down;
- Avoid distractions such as texting and driving; and
- Obey all posted signage.
For more information about NWZAW, please visit NWZAW.org.