Roadway construction zone fatalities hit record highs

The number of deaths in roadway construction zones hit record highs in 2002, according to recently released data. Approximately 1,181 people were killed in construction zone accidents last year — an increase of 102 deaths from 2001.

Fatalities related to roadway construction zone accidents have increased 70 percent since 1997. Officials from the American Road and Transportation Builders Association suspect the steep increase can be attributed in part to the number of road construction projects, which have increased in order to repair and improve the nation’s aging transportation infrastructure.

“We are deeply concerned about the number of deaths of motorists and highway workers in the nation’s roadway construction zones,” said Tom Hill, chairman of ARTBA. “On average, three people die in road construction sites every day. This is unacceptable.”

The state that led the nation with the highest number of roadway construction fatalities last year was Texas, which had 192 deaths. States that fell close behind included California, Georgia, Florida, New York, North Carolina, Arkansas, Tennessee, Pennsylvania and Alabama. States that had the fewest fatalities were Alaska, Connecticut, North Dakota, Rhode Island and Utah, which only had one each in 2002.

What should be done to make roadway construction zones safer for workers and for drivers? ARTBA suggests highway investment should be boosted to address work hazards. The organization also encourages motorists and construction workers to stay alert, expect the unexpected and minimize distractions when in a roadway construction zone.

For the National Work Zone Safety Information Clearinghouse’s breakdown of each state’s work zone fatalities and fatal crashes, click on the link to the right.