Highway work zone safety reminder: Slow down, pay attention

An ADOT safety sign hangs over the freeway.

Contributed Article/Courtesy ADOT

PHOENIX – Arizona drivers: Please slow down and stay alert in highway work zones.

That’s the message from the Arizona Department of Transportation, following a weekend crash in which a Department of Public Safety trooper’s patrol vehicle was struck from behind along the shoulder of an Interstate 10 work zone in Phoenix.

Law enforcement reports show 61 people were killed in work zone-related crashes on local streets and highways across Arizona from 2017 to 2020. More than 850 people were killed nationwide in work zone incidents in 2020 (the most recent year for available national data).

The Arizona Department of Public Safety is investigating Saturday’s non-fatal crash reportedly involving a vehicle hitting the rear of the DPS vehicle after the trooper responded to another crash near I-10 and 40th Street. The crash location was within ADOT’s work zone for the ongoing I-10 Broadway Curve Improvement Project.

The incident serves as a reminder that drivers should obey lower speed limits and stay alert for changing traffic conditions – including slowing or stopped traffic – in all work zones. ADOT’s  I-10 Broadway Curve Improvement Project team released this Work Zone Safety public service announcement earlier this year.

National statistics over time have shown that 4 out of 5 victims of work zone crashes were drivers or their passengers. Arizona work zone crash statistics from law enforcement reports over the past five years include the following:

  • 2017: 18 fatalities, 31 serious injuries
  • 2018: 17 fatalities, 23 serious injuries
  • 2019: 15 fatalities, 22 serious injuries
  • 2020: 11 fatalities, 23 serious injuries

It’s important for drivers to slow down and pay attention when approaching and traveling through all work zones, but especially so in areas where workers aren’t able to work behind barrier walls.

Randy Everett, ADOT’s Central District Administrator, emphasized the need for drivers to stay alert and not speed in work zones during National Work Zone Awareness Week back in April.

“We have flashing lights, signs, and other safety equipment, but often the biggest factor is whether a driver is impaired, speeding, or distracted in some way,” said Everett. “If you’re entering a work zone, your first instinct should be to slow down.”