April 8-12 is National Work Zone Awareness Week, an annual spring campaign held at the start of construction season to encourage safe driving through roadway construction zones.
According to the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), in 2017 there were 799 work zone fatalities nationwide, the majority of which were motorists, with 132 deaths accounting for roadway worker fatalities. On average, more than 40 percent of fatalities occur in low-speed work zones.
To improve the safety of motorists and workers in Springfield, the City has devised a Work Zone Policy Guide and associated Field Guide aimed at improving consistency in the design and implementation of common work-zone traffic-control measures on City-managed streets. Springfield is one of few cities of comparable size in the nation to create its own Work Zone Policy Guide.
Most cities and counties reference the federal Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD) in plans, permits and internal operations. Springfield’s Work Zone Policy Guide was developed to provide additional clarification and guidance in developing and utilizing standard temporary traffic control plans on City streets. The Work Zone Policy Guide acts as a supplement to the MUTCD to improve consistency and motorist recognition of temporary traffic control with the goal of improved safety for all.
“The MUTCD is a very detailed federal guide that can be difficult to interpret,” explains Brett Foster, Principal Engineer over Construction Inspection. “This guide is a tool to make it clearer and easier for City employees and contractors to consistently set up safe work zones and improve traffic and pedestrian safety during construction.”
Public Works and Environmental Services staff formed a joint committee to develop the Work Zone Policy Guide. The guide provides customized, illustrated typical applications for work most commonly encountered on Springfield streets and sidewalks. When the typical applications provided don’t adequately cover the required situation, the guide outlines the steps for employees to obtain guidance or seek clarification.
“The guide has been utilized for nearly a year with positive results and input from our traffic control workers and contractors,” Foster says. “This is a working document that will continue to be developed as we work together on ideas to make the temporary traffic control process better.”
About National Work Zone Awareness Week:
National Work Zone Awareness Week is a national public awareness campaign that spreads the message that we are all responsible for work zone safety. This year’s theme is “Drive like you work here.”
2016-2017 statistics from the National Highway Safety Administration’s Fatality Analysis Reporting System indicate a 2 percent increase in work-zone fatalities.
Originally formed by the American Traffic Safety Services Association, the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials and the Federal Highway Administration, the National Work Zone Awareness Week partnership continues to expand to include support from other organizations and individuals impacted by work-zone safety.
To learn more about National Work Zone Awareness Week, visit nwzaw.org.
Work Zone Safety Tips for Drivers:
- Stay alert and minimize distractions - Drivers should dedicate their full attention to the roadway. Avoid changing the radio station, using a mobile device, eating or other distractions that can remove your concentration from the road.
- Keep your headlights on
- Pay attention to the road - Listen and obey roadway signage and follow the direction they provide. Always watch for brake lights on vehicles ahead.
- Merge into the proper lane - Merge well before you reach the lane closure and be aware that traffic patterns can change daily in work zones.
- Don’t tailgate! - Follow other vehicles at a safe distance.
- Expect the unexpected - Workers, work vehicles, or equipment may enter your lane without warning. Other vehicles may slow, stop or change lanes unexpectedly.
- Be patient!
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For more information, contact Communication Coordinator Kristen Milam at 573-819-3713 or [email protected].