National Work Zone Awareness Week: Drive Slow!

As part of National Work Zone Awareness Week, the Arizona Department of Transportation are warning drivers to be extra cautious around construction work zones.

The number of work zone deaths in Arizona appears to have gone up, according to the most recent statistics available.

Signs are up at a construction work zone near Interstate 10 and Loop 303 in Goodyear, and a major interchange project is underway. As the sun peeked through the clouds, workers arrived to start their shift.
Many were working in the roadway by 6 a.m. when rush hour starts.

"I think what a dangerous job these people have," said Kathi Bobbitt, a driver I met in Phoenix, who says she tried to slow down at cone zones.

"I mean I'd be scared if that was my husband," said Joni Villalobos, a Phoenix driver.

Striped barricades, reflectors, and signs add an extra layer of protection and hopefully allow drivers to know they're reaching a work zone.

About 1/4 mile ahead of the work zone, reduced speed limit signs start warning drivers to slow down.
"We try to keep our workers safe," said ADOT spokesman Doug Nintzel. "Drivers need to slow down and pay attention."

Drivers might want to slow down for their own sake. According to the most recent data available, 600 people were killed in highway work zone accidents across the country in 2010.

Fourteen of those deaths were in Arizona. More than 80 percent of people killed in work zone accidents are drivers and passengers.

The numbers are still being counted for 2011 but it looks as though Arizona's death toll in work zones will be closer to 20, Nintzel said. "The numbers have gone up."

Nintzel said drivers and passengers are likely killed in work zone accidents more than construction workers because they're not paying attention.

"Get off the cell phones," he advised. "Pay attention."