On April 26, the Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) called on all drivers, especially commercial motor vehicle (CMV) drivers, to “share work zones safely.”
“I am especially concerned that large trucks continue to have a disproportional involvement in fatal crashes occurring in work zones–33 percent–when large trucks comprise roughly five percent of vehicular traffic,” FMCSA Deputy Administrator Meera Joshi said in an agency statement. On April 14, President Joe Biden nominated Joshi as FMCSA administrator; Joshi’s nomination was sent to the U.S. Senate for confirmation on April 15.
“Fatal crashes occurring in work zones are both tragic and absolutely preventable,” Joshi continued. “Don’t allow yourself to become distracted, slow down, obey the signs and the instructions of flaggers and be courteous and safe by giving every vehicle extra space. Highway workers equally depend on you for their safety.”
The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) reported that 842 people died in highway work zone crashes in 2019, the most recent year for which data are available, compared with 757 the previous year. The 11.2% increase is the largest percentage increase of highway work zone fatalities this century, according to the FMCSA.
The DOT is concentrating safety awareness efforts in three states—Florida, Georgia, and Texas—during National Work Zone Awareness Week (April 26–30). Florida, Georgia, and Texas experienced some of the highest rates of work zone crashes involving large trucks in the country, according to the FMCSA. The agency has developed educational resources, including fact sheets, post cards, and shareable social media infographics, to help promote its work zone safety message.
The FMCSA released a number of additional statistics on motor vehicle crashes involving CMVs, including:
- Of the 6 million vehicle crashes that occurred in the United States, 476,000 involved large trucks and buses.
- Thirteen percent of all highway fatalities were in crashes involving a large truck or bus; 6% of all highway-related injuries involved crashes with a large truck or bus; and 61% of all fatal crashes involving large trucks occur on rural roads.
- Seven out of 10 people killed in crashes involving large trucks are occupants of the other vehicles.
- Nineteen percent of all injury crashes, 20% of all property damage-only crashes, and 37% of all fatal crashes involving large trucks occur at night (6:00 p.m.–6:00 a.m.).
- Bicyclists and pedestrians make up 9.4% of people killed in crashes involving large trucks.
The FHWA has partnered with the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) and the American Traffic Safety Services Association (ATSSA) to coordinate and sponsor the National Work Zone Awareness Week.
The FHWA began working with the AASHTO and the ATSSA in 1999, and the first national event was held at a work zone in Springfield, Virginia, in April 2000.
The FHWA encourages state, county, and local transportation professionals across the country to wear orange on April 28 to promote work zone safety and post group or individual photos on social media using the #Orange4Safety, #GoOrangeDay, or #OrangeForSafety hashtag.