This Week is National Work Zone Awareness Week!

April 28, 2021


Brent Eames

Car accidents in work zones occur daily, and claim the lives of far too many construction workers and drivers across America. In fact, a person is killed in a work zone accident every 15 hours nationwide! According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics more than 1800 workers were killed at road construction sites between 2003 and 2017. On average, that’s approximately 123 workers every year who lost their lives due to works zone accidents. Traffic accidents contributed to 76 percent of those fatalities.    The state of Texas had the greatest number of road construction fatalities between 2003 and 2017 while Illinois ranked fourth in the nation.

Work zone accidents affect not only construction workers, but injure and claim the lives of numerous drivers and passengers. Statistically, four out of five people killed in a work zone accidents are drivers.  When accounting for injuries and fatalities sustained in work zones by drivers and construction workers, 700 people are killed and more than 35,000 are injured across America every year. Consequentially, in order to increase awareness about the safety in work zones, every year at the beginning of the construction season, state departments of transportation, national road safety organization, local governments, and private groups team up to host a National Work Zone Awareness Week (NWZA).  This year the NWZA is held nationwide from April 26th through April 30th.

The History Behind the National Work Zone Awareness Week

It all started in 1997 when a group of Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) staff members decided to increase the awareness about the safety of road construction workers among local district employees. The California Department of Transportation followed suit, and in 1999 started its own statewide road safety awareness program called “Slow for the Cone Zone.” However, as a nationwide campaign, NWZA has its beginnings in 1998 when VDOT staff presented an idea of dedicating a week in the spring to educating the public about the importance of slowing down and using caution when driving in work zones to American Traffic Safety Services Association (ATSSA).  In December of 1999, ATSSA reached out to the officials from the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) as well as the American Association of State Highway Transportation Officials (AASHTO) with the proposal about instituting NWZA to increase awareness about the safety of road construction workers, establishing nationwide uniform safety standards, and disseminating educational safety programs. FHWA and AASHTO supported the proposal and the first NWZA was held in 2000, in Springfield, Va. The NWZA was held nationwide every year since then with kick-off locations alternating every year between different states.  This year, NWZA is hosted by the Michigan Department of Transportation.   Individuals and organizations can show their support for NWZA by wearing orange on April 28th, which since 2016 is designated as  “Go Orange Day”.

What To Do If You Are Involved In The Work Zone Accident?

If you have been involved in an accident while working as a flagger or in a work zone, you should be entitled to receive workers’ compensation benefits from your employer, which should include payment of related medical expenses, payment of temporary disability benefits while you recover from your injuries, and a lump sum for permanent impairment caused by the injuries. Additionally, you should be entitled to bring a third-party case for negligence against the person(s) and other entities which caused or contributed to your injuries. If the injury was a result of a car accident, you can sue the driver of the automobile and potentially the driver’s employer for negligence, or willful and wanton conduct in causing your injuries in the work zone.

Attorney Brent Eames is experienced handling injury claims on behalf of flaggers and roadworkers who have been injured while performing their work. This goes all the way back to his first year of practice as an attorney, when at the age of 26, Brent Eames obtained a verdict in LaSalle County for over $1,200,000.00 on behalf of an injured flagger who was struck by an automobile at a high rate of speed, causing serious injuries. If you have been injured in a work zone, it’s important to know how to apply for workers’ comp. When you have questions about the filing, settlement, or appeals process, speaking to an Illinois attorney at Eames Law Group can help. Our team has a wealth of experience helping clients throughout the state through the Illinois workers’ compensation process, as well as the civil personal injury process. To learn what we can do for you, contact us today for a free case evaluation.

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