Letter: Work zones

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Each spring, the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) and other state DOTs recognize Work Zone Awareness Week to remind drivers of the importance of avoiding distractions and driving safely through work zones. We invite you to join VDOT in the annual observance of National Work Zone Awareness Week April 3-7. This week is a reminder that work zone safety is everyone’s responsibility.

Our employees and contractors put their lives on the line in work zones every day while working to improve travel for motorists in Virginia. This is true in mobile operations like mowing, paving and plowing snow, as well as in our established work zones for long-term construction projects like bridge replacements, 10th Street in the city of Roanoke, I-81 at exit 105, Southgate at Virginia Tech and I-81 at exit 150.

Although signs, cones and safety vests can be effective in warning motorists of a work zone, these tools are no protection against a fast-moving vehicle or an inattentive driver.

Did you know…

  • Every time a driver takes their focus off the road—even for a moment—they put their lives and the lives of others in danger.
  • Four out of five persons who die in work zone crashes are motorists—drivers and passengers—not highway workers.
  • In 2016, there were 2,427 work zone related crashes leading to 1,170 work zone injuries and 10 fatalities from 9 fatal crashes.

All motorists—whether a seasoned driver or someone new behind the wheel—should follow these instructions when driving through a work zone:

  • When you see the orange work zone warning signs, be alert for changing conditions ahead.
  • Slow down in work zones and be aware of your surroundings at all times.
  • Minimize distractions. Avoid using mobile devices when behind the wheel.

In addition, to show support for National Work Zone Awareness Week, VDOT encourages you to participate in these activities during the week:

  • Wednesday, April 5 is national “Go Orange Day.” Everyone is encouraged to wear orange in support of work zone safety across the country. Share your pictures with us on Twitter and Facebook! #GoOrangeVa
  • Follow our Twitter page @VaDOTSalem and share our messages, pictures and hashtags throughout the week.

We appreciate your efforts to keep our roads and work zones safe for everyone.

Ken King, P.E.

District Engineer

Salem District