64 Percent of Highway Contractors Report Crashes in their Work Zones

June 14, 2024|

Workers Plead with Drivers to Slow Down in New Videos, Construction Officials Call for Tougher Safety and Education Measures as Annual Survey Details Growing Risks to Drivers & Workers from Work Zone Crashes

Sixty-four percent of highway contractors report that motor vehicles crashed into their construction work zones during the past year, putting motorists and workers at risk, according to the results of a new highway work zone study conducted by the Associated General Contractors of America and HCSS. Association officials and construction workers urged drivers to slow down and be careful this summer while driving through construction zones and pushed public officials to enhance work zone safety laws.

“Bad driving behavior and lax work zone safety laws don’t just put construction workers at greater risk,” said Jeffrey Shoaf, the association’s chief executive officer. “Our new data shows that drivers and their passengers are in even greater danger from highway work zone crashes.”

Shoaf noted that 24 percent of respondents reported experiencing five or more crashes during the past 12 months. Among respondents who reported experiencing work zone crashes, 29 percent experienced crashes that resulted in injury to construction workers. But more than twice as many firms – 66 percent – reported experiencing a crash in which drivers or passengers were injured.

Work zone crashes are also nearly three times as likely to result in fatalities to drivers or passengers as construction workers. Nine percent of contractors in the survey report that construction workers were killed in work zone crashes, while 24 percent of survey respondents report drivers or passengers were killed in those crashes.

“Automated enforcement laws would go a long way in improving work zone safety, especially if the work zone is on the driver’s daily route,” said Steve McGough, President and CEO of HCSS. “It compels drivers to decrease their speed and pay closer attention to their surroundings.”

Shoaf noted that 49 percent of contractors report that highway work zones are more dangerous than they were a year ago. Another 48 percent say the risks are the same as a year ago. He noted, however, that work zone safety laws have failed to keep pace with the growing dangers. Sixty-four percent of contractors report that the current penalties for moving violations in highway work zones are not sufficient to deter unsafe driving behavior.

Two-thirds of survey respondents want states to pass stricter laws against cell phone usage and distracted driving in work zones. And 60 percent want automated enforcement in those zones. “Too few drivers see the need to slow down and pay attention in work zones because too few states have made work zone safety a top priority,” Shoaf said.

The association is pushing Congress to require the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to collect comprehensive data on work zone crashes, including who is killed or injured in those crashes and to require states to create plans to reduce work zone crashes. AGC is also working with its network of chapters to push for better enforcement and education measures. Shoaf noted that South Carolina has begun mandating that work zone safety education for new drivers and Vermont just authorized automated speed enforcement on highway work zones.

The association also release two new public service videos urging drivers to be more careful in work zones. The work zone safety study was based on a nationwide survey of highway construction firms the association and HCSS conducted this April and May. More than 700 contractors completed the survey. Click here to view the survey results.


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