Survey of highway contractors shows six in 10 reported a crash into their work zone
Friday, June 25, 2021

Section: Project Roadsafe

work zone

Two reports this month offer stark reminders of the risks of highway work zones and the importance of roadway safety.

Yesterday, we looked at the latest data from the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), which released its early estimate of motor vehicle traffic fatalities for 2020.

Today, we look at results of a survey of highway workers regarding work zone incidents and the issues contractors identified as key to improving safety for employees in work zones.

The Associated General Contractors of America (AGC) and HCSS Software Solutions surveyed highway contractors on their experiences with respect to work zone safety in 2020. Their 2021 Work Zone Awareness Survey Results, which included responses from 292 firms, found that 60% of contractors reported at least one motor vehicle crash in their work zone.

Results showed:

  • 8% reported one crash
  • 10% reported two crashes
  • 8% reported three crashes
  • 4% reported four crashes
  • 30% reported five or more crashes.

The good news was that 81% reported no injuries to their work crew from the crash. The bad news:

  • 11% reported one injury
  • 3% reported two injuries
  • 2% reported three injuries
  • 2% reported four injuries
  • 1% reported five or more injuries.

Of those surveyed, 96% reported no work zone worker fatalities. The 4% with fatalities reported either one or two people killed.

A larger number of people who were the driver or passenger of a vehicle that crashed into the work zone were killed, which reflects what is typically seen in work zone crashes, according to data from the National Work Zone Safety Information Clearinghouse.

The AGC-HCSS survey also sought insights from the contractors and addressed four key issues.

How changes in highway traffic since the pandemic affected the highway work zone:

  • 33%--No Change
  • 32%--Made them safer because of fewer vehicles on the road
  • 28%--Made them less safe because of vehicles operating at higher speeds
  • 8%--Other

How much of a risk are highway work zones now compared to a decade ago:

  • 78%--Greater risk now
  • 13%--About the same
  • 9%—Less risk now

Why highway work zone construction is more dangerous today than a decade ago:

  • 88%--Phones
  • 68%--Speeding
  • 60%--Traffic
  • 22%--Other

Would any of these measures help reduce work zone crashes, injuries and/or fatalities:

  • 82%--Greater police presence at work zone sites
  • 70%--Stricter laws against cell phone usage and distracted driving in work zones
  • 68%--Stricter enforcement of existing laws regarding work zone moving violations
  • 61%--Closing roads and detouring traffic
  • 52%--Automatic ticketing for speed violations in work zones
  • 47%--Tougher laws, fines and legal penalties for moving violations in work zones
  • 21%--Better or more frequent safety training for roadway construction workers
  • 7%--Other
  • 0%--No changes needed