Roadway work zone fatalities rise in 2001

During 2001, 1,079 people were killed in roadway construction zone accidents, an increase of 53 deaths compared to 2000 figures, according to data compiled by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

“We are deeply concerned about the growing number of deaths of motorists and highway workers in the nation’s roadway construction zones,” said Pete Ruane, president and chief executive of the American Road & Transportation Builders Association. “On average, three people die in road construction sites every day. This is unacceptable.”

Construction work-zone related fatalities have increased 65 percent during the past five years. One possible cause for the rising death toll is the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century, which Congress authorized in 1998. The $217 billion federal highway investment policy has led to significant increases in the number of road construction sites.

“This is not a price we should have to pay for improving an aging transportation network,” Ruane said.

Congress and the transportation community should work together as part of next year’s reauthorization of TEA-21 to develop policies that will reduce safety hazards associated with roadway work zones, he said.