Work Zone Awareness Week

April 7–11, 2014

The U.S. Department of Transportation and the Federal Highway Administration present National Work Zone Awareness Week each spring, to bring national attention to motorist and worker safety in work zones.

DOT participates to raise driver awareness and decrease the number of persons killed in motor vehicle crashes in work zones. This year DOT will place work zone safety ribbon magnets on all DOT vehicles and run print, radio and outdoor ads to promote work zone safety in both New York City and in Albany.

DOT is currently working on state legislation to intensify penalties against drivers who are convicted of either killing or injuring construction workers in work zones. The proposed bill is intended to serve as a deterrent to driving carelessly in a work zone.

Work Zone Facts at a Glance

  • On average, nearly 600 work zone fatalities occur nationwide every year.
  • Over four out of every five work zone fatalities are motorists.
  • More than 32,000 people are injured each year as a result of motor vehicle crashes in work zones.
  • One work zone fatality occurs every 15 hours (1.6 a day)
  • One work zone injury occurs every 16 minutes (88 a day)
  • 7 NYC DOT workers have died in work zone incidents in the last two decades.
  • 22 NYC DOT workers have been injured in work zone incidents since 2009
  • In New York State, there were five work zone fatalities in 2010, six work zone fatalities in 2009, six fatalities in 2008 and 11 fatalities in 2007.

(Source: 2010 FHWA facts & statistics, NYC DOT and NYS DOT.)

Tips on Driving Safely in Work Zones

  • Drive within the posted speed limits.
  • Dedicate full attention to the roadway.
  • Refrain from distracting activities, such as changing radio stations and especially using mobile phones.
  • Pay close attention to merge signs, and do not change lanes within the work zone.
  • Merge into the proper lane well before you reach the lane closure.
  • Watch out not only for workers in the zone, but also for their equipment.
  • Be patient and remember that the work zone crew members are working to improve our roads for our safety and convenience.

More work zone safety tips from the New York State Department of Transportation.

New York StateWork Zone Safety Bill

There is proposed legislation in front of the New York State Legislature to improve worker safety. This Work Zone Safety Bill would amend the Vehicle and Traffic Law by defining the new crime of intrusion into an active work zone as a class B misdemeanor, which will subject offenders to a $250 to $500 fine and/or a maximum sentence of three months imprisonment. The bill would also amend the Penal Law by creating the new crimes of vehicular manslaughter in an active work zone in the first degree (a class B felony offense), vehicular manslaughter in an active work zone in the second degree (a class C felony offense), vehicular assault in an active work zone in the first degree (a class D felony) and vehicular assault in an active work zone in the second degree (a class E felony).

Other states have passed tough penalties for drivers who cause injury or death to construction workers. In Pennsylvania, a "homicide by vehicle" which occurs in an active work zone incurs an additional 5 years in prison. Michigan currently has the toughest criminal penalties for crashes that occur in work zones. A person who commits a moving violation such as speeding more than 10 miles over the posted speed limit in a work zone and as a result causes death to a person working in a construction zone is guilty of a felony punishable by a fine of not more than $7,500 or by imprisonment of not more than 15 years or both. Thus, merely driving carelessly and not just reckless or drunken driving can trigger the felony penalties.