There is generally a fair amount of road construction going on in Utah on a consistent basis, and we know it’s frustrating, especially when you’re in a hurry and speeds need to be reduced. But the workers on the road deserve to feel safe while they’re on the job, and it’s every driver’s responsibility to be cautious in work zones. Last year we saw a 16-year high in the nation’s work zone fatalities, with an increase of 45% between 2013 and 2020. In 2020 alone there were 102,000 accidents reported in work zones resulting in over 45,000 injuries and 857 fatalities. Additionally, work zone crashes are estimated to cost about $17.5 billion each year. A survey of highway contractors showed that most crashes into work zones are preventable, and the workers suggested positive protection measures are necessary to improve safety. Positive protection means “measures ‘between workers and motorized traffic’ which ‘contain and/or redirect vehicles’ and meet applicable crashworthiness criteria.” These include highly mobile and/or temporary movable barriers of concrete or steel and associated cushion sections in vulnerable areas to protect workers from oncoming traffic.
These rising numbers show how important it is to implement positive protection measures. In 2021, an amendment was made to the Highway Safety Improvement Program (HSIP) to include protection for “vulnerable road users” which includes road construction workers and anyone working on foot along a roadway. It’s certainly a step in the right direction for keeping our workers safe.
Most employees on road working jobs will be on projects behind orange barrels and with signage that is clearly visible to drivers. However, sometimes these workers need to step outside the safety zone, or they need to be working very close to the barriers. It doesn’t take much for a car to veer into these barriers for a split second. High speeds and distracted drivers are these workers’ biggest risk factors, which means they’re putting their trust into millions of cars each day to watch out for them and to be attentive at all times. Rumble strips, law enforcement officers, flaggers, cones, and signs are all attempts of the company to ask drivers to slow it down and practice safe driving in those high-risk areas. Don’t get impatient and speed through these spots. The barriers create a thin yet crucial safety line for workers that needs to be respected. Construction companies also work hard to ensure safe driving passages for motorists, too, and are always prioritizing the most effective ways to get a job done.
At Go Pave Utah, we train our employees on road safety while they’re on the job. Our employees are our top priority, and we work hard to ensure their safety is guaranteed while they’re on the clock. Our paving crews are protected by us and are knowledgeable of the risks, now it’s up to Utah drivers to drive alert, be aware, and consider their neighbor’s lives while going through work zones. On behalf of our crew, we thank you for driving safe.