National Work Zone Awareness Week kicks off across United States April 9-13
Work Zone Safety: Everybody’s Responsibility.
That phrase is the theme for this year’s National Work Zone Awareness Week (NWZAW), an annual nationwide event that brings the American Traffic Safety Services Association (ATSSA), federal agencies, state departments of transportation, national roadway safety organizations, companies, and individuals together to promote keeping roadway workers safe.
According to the most recent Fatality Analysis Reporting System Encyclopedia (FARS) data available from the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), there were 700 work zone fatalities in 2015. And FARS statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) show there were 35,526 work zone injuries that same year. The FHWA also reports a 42 percent increase in total work zone crashes from 2013 to 2015, making the mission behind NWZAW more prevalent than ever.
But how did NWZAW get started?
In 1997, a group of Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) staff members, located in southwestern Virginia, wanted to dedicate a week to raise awareness about work zone safety among all district employees before construction projects picked up during the warmer months. Following the successful promotion of this first event, VDOT took the idea statewide to raise awareness, and in 1999 the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) began its statewide public awareness campaign, “Slow for the Cone Zone.”
However, it was 1998 when VDOT first presented the idea to create a national campaign to ATSSA officials. In December of 1999, ATSSA approached FHWA and the American Association of State Highway Transportation Officials (AASHTO) to launch the first official NWZAW. The first official NWZAW kick-off event was held in 2000 in Springfield, Va. The site where the kick-off event is held now alternates each year from being hosted in the Washington, D.C., area to different locations across the United States. State transportation departments can submit applications to host the event on those alternate years.
Over the years, as more state agencies held their own NWZAW events, themes were eventually included in the campaign, starting in 2004. The NWZAW Executive Committee has continued to promote NWZAW each spring, prior to the construction season to raise awareness of work zones and the need to drive responsibly through them.
This year, NWZAW is April 9-13. For this 19th year, the NWZAW kick-off event will be held in Chicago and hosted by the Illinois Department of Transportation on April 10, and Go Orange Day is on April 11. All are encouraged to wear orange and post photos to help celebrate Go Orange Day.
Use #orange4safety and #NWZAW in social media posts and don't forget to tag us: @ATSSAHQ on Twitter and @ATSSATraffic on Facebook. For more details about NWZAW, visit NWZAW.org.
National Work Zone Awareness timeline
1997 – VDOT’s Bristol District develops an internal awareness campaign for work zone safety
1998 – VDOT launches statewide public awareness campaign
1999 – Caltrans initiates "Slow for the Cone Zone" public awareness campaign
1999 – ATSSA, FHWA, and AASHTO agree to create National Work Zone Awareness Week
2000 – First national event is held in Springfield, Virginia
2001 – Second national event is held on the National Mall in Washington, D.C.
2002 – Third national event is held in Capitol Heights, Maryland, and the National Work Zone Memorial begins traveling to be displayed at the event
2003 – Fourth national event is held at Freedom Plaza in Washington, D.C.
2004 – Fifth national event held at Springfield, Virginia, at a work zone site and the first use of a theme for national campaign occurs
2005 – Sixth national event is held on Maryland side of Woodrow Wilson Bridge Project
2006 – Seventh national event held for the first time in the evening on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., to highlight the theme of night work
2007 – Eighth national event is held on Virginia side of the Woodrow Wilson Bridge Project
2008 – Ninth national event moved to Sacramento, California, which is the first time the national event is held outside the Washington, D.C., area
2009 – Tenth national event is held at Federal Lands Highway work zone across the Potomac River from Washington, D.C.
2010 – New York City hosts 11th national event
2011 – 12th national event is held at a road construction site in Beltsville, Maryland
2012 – The 13th national event is held at a work zone near St. Louis, Missouri
2013 – Washington, D.C. hosts the 14th national event
2014 – The 15th national event is held in Seattle, Washington
2015 – The 16th national event is held in Arlington, Virginia
2016 – The 17th national event is held in Toledo, Ohio
2017 – The 18th national event is held in Silver Spring, Maryland
2018 – The 19th national event will be held in Chicago, Illinois