Orange Barrel Alert: National Work Zone Awareness Week is April 15-19

KDOT Employees at the Gage Office in Topeka Wear Orange and Yellow Safety Colors to Show their Support for All Highway Workers Across Kansas During National Work Zone Awareness Week
KDOT Employees at the Gage Office in Topeka Wear Orange and Yellow Safety Colors to Show their Support for All Highway Workers Across Kansas During National Work Zone Awareness Week

As warm weather returns, so too do the many road construction zones on our streets and highways, as crews work to maintain and repair roadways.  April 15th through April 19th is 2024 National Work Zone Awareness Week (NWZAW), and AAA Kansas joins with transportation, construction and traffic safety agencies at the state and federal level, to remind drivers to stay focused and drive with caution in road work zones.

“This week -- and really the entire road construction season – is a yearly reminder that work zone safety for all road users – including motorists and vulnerable road users such as pedestrians, bicyclists, and highway workers on foot – is extremely important,” said Shawn Steward, public affairs manager for AAA Kansas.  “Work zones and highway workers are crucial to upgrading and maintaining our roadways.”

Kansas Work Zone Facts

  • About 90% of the time, the people injured in work zone crashes are motorists.  In 2023 in Kansas, nine people died in work zone crashes and 508 people were injured, according to the Kansas Department of Transportation (KDOT).
  • The top contributing circumstance of work zone crashes is inattention.  Others include following too closely, driving too fast for conditions, improperly changing lanes and violating the right of way.
  • There was an average of four work zone crashes every day in Kansas in 2023 (1,482 crashes), KDOT says.  The good news – about 75% of the crashes were property damage only.  The bad news - every crash has the possibility of affecting lives forever.
  • Double fines in all Kansas work zones, whether in major construction projects or short-term maintenance projects.  If you don’t slow down, you will pay up.
  • The Kansas ‘Move Over’ Law requires motorists on four-lane highways to switch to the lane farthest from any stationary vehicle displaying flashing lights, if it is safe to do so, and to slow down.  Citations are a $195 fine plus court costs.  AAA has worked to support and help establish Slow Down, Move Over laws in all 50 states to protect those at the roadside, including emergency responders, construction crews, tow truck operators and drivers dealing with a disabled vehicle.

The national theme of this year’s work zone safety recognition period is “Work zones are temporary. Actions behind the wheel can last forever.”  Wednesday, April 17th is being recognized as Go Orange Day in Kansas to show support to highway workers and bring awareness to work zone safety.

Work Zone Safety Tips for Drivers
As state transportation agencies, local communities, and construction contractors strive to keep road users safe, drivers should consider the following actions behind the wheel to improve work zone safety for all:

  • Reroute.  Avoid traveling through work zones, if possible.  Otherwise, allow extra time for possible delays and travel safely.
  • Avoid distractions.  Workers are focused on their jobs in work zones; be vigilant behind the wheel to safely travel through the work zone by putting down your phone and paying attention while driving.
  • Reduce speed.  Follow speed limits to make driving through narrow lanes and lane shifts easier and safer for you while keeping workers safe.
  • Be aware of workers.  The work area is often very close to travel lanes, so please be considerate: Take care and slow down when you see workers.
  • Watch for pedestrians and bicyclists.  Work zones often restrict where non-motorized road users can travel.  In 2022, 145 persons on foot and bicyclists lost their lives in work zone crashes across the nation.
  • Give large vehicles space.  Narrow lanes, unexpected lane shifts, and longer braking distances are challenges for large vehicles.  Allow extra space for them to safely navigate work zones.  In 2022, 30% of fatal work zone crashes involved commercial motor vehicles (CMVs), which include large trucks and buses.  Take care around large construction vehicles, which may be driving at slower speeds to enter and exit the work area.
  • Stay alert.  Be prepared for sudden stops.  Work zones may cause unexpected slowdowns.  In 2022, 21% of all fatal work zone crashes nationwide involved rear-end collisions.