It’s National Work Zone Awareness Week, and this year’s theme is “Drive Like You Work Here.” As a civil engineer, I’ve spent most of my professional life around construction, roadwork and other infrastructure projects. My life revolves around building safer, more efficient working environments, but road work zones are notoriously dangerous. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, speed was a contributing factor in almost 29 percent of fatal work zone crashes in 2017. Still, I know I’ve been guilty of driving too fast in roadway work zones.
Highway work zones can be annoying to commuters, but these construction sites are essential to maintaining and upgrading the roadways we use every day. Blacklidge works tirelessly to create products that will reduce the need for continual maintenance, but products alone do not ensure safety. Road construction is a service performed by hardworking people that helps us safely get where we need to go.
Oftentimes, where I want to go is home. I know I’ve been tempted to speed through work zones when I’m eager to see my wife and daughters after a long day at work. But the individuals working to create, expand and fix the roads have families at home as well. Even though I feel in control while traveling through work zones, there are many outside elements and distractions that can turn my vehicle into a deadly machine. Hazards associated with simple tasks like changing the radio station or receiving a phone call can be magnified due to narrowing or uneven lanes, equipment entering and leaving the highway or suddenly stopped traffic.
For these reasons, this week and beyond, I pledge to:
- Always slow down in work zones so that I am not exceeding the posted speed limits.
- Never allow distractions—such as texting, phone calls and the radio—to interfere with my driving, especially in work zones.
- Teach my entire family that road construction betters our lives. Road work is not an inconvenience; it’s a service. We should be happy and grateful when we see construction.
I’m taking National Work Zone Awareness Week’s message to heart and making an effort to “Drive Like I Work Here.” Will you?