With last week’s National Work Zone Awareness Week once again encouraging drivers to stay alert, calm and aware when driving through crowded construction areas, the most recent available statistics from 2013 - 2014 on work zone crashes show a disappointing 13% rise in the number of fatalities, the highest jump in five years. In 2014, a total of 669 fatalities, the highest number since 2009, occurred in work zones, 116 of them were highway workers and 46 of the crashes involved multiple fatalities.
According to 2014 data from the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), 30% of the fatal crashes involved one or more large commercial vehicles, totaling 235 trucks and 11 buses – a 27% increase from 2013. Distracted driving was a factor in 16% of fatal crashes in work zones, while speeding was a factor in 29%. The most frequently occurring type of work zone crash has consistently been the rear-end collision.
Despite the recent increase in fatalities, work zone fatalities overall are down by 23% since 1999, the first year of the annual National Work Zone Awareness Week effort. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has published a “2015 Pocket Guide to Large Truck and Bus Statistics” highlighting the Agency’s role in collecting and analyzing crash data and statistics to support its mission of working to prevent commercial motor vehicle-related fatalities and injuries.