Now that winter finally appears to be making its exit, it means that certain summertime activities can resume in earnest, including barbeques, baseball games, gardening, and, of course, road construction. Like it or not, the roads across the state of Illinois will soon be marked with orange traffic signs and narrowed lanes as road crews begin filling pot holes, repairing bridges, building roads and mowing medians.
Both government officials and safety advocacy groups -- including the Federal Highway Association, the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials and the American Traffic Safety Services Association -- are now warning motorists to be on the lookout for these road crews over the coming months and to exercise the necessary degree of caution while navigating work zones.
In fact, these groups have even designated next week as the 14th annual "National Work Zone Awareness Week."
This year's theme is "Work Zone Safety: We're all in this together," and is designed to underscore the relative complexity of work zones -- particularly in large urban areas like Chicago. Specifically, the campaign highlights how work zones require increased vigilance on the part of everyone from road workers and motorists to pedestrians and bicyclists.
While you may question the need for these groups to create such an annual event, consider that in 2009 alone, the most recent year for which complete data is available, there were 667 work zone fatalities here in the U.S.
Safety officials are therefore urging motorists to take the following steps while driving through work zones:
- Observe the speed limit
- Remain alert and eliminate distractions as lanes often narrow and workers are often present
- Expect delays/allow extra time for your commute
- Consider an alternate route
Consider speaking with an experienced workers' compensation attorney to learn more about your options if you have suffered serious injuries in a construction workers' accident.
Sources: U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration, "National Work Zone Awareness Week," April 2013; Indiana Department of Transportation, "Work zone safety"