Roadway workers, including utility contractors, telecommunication providers, and traffic control professionals, put their lives at risk daily to maintain our nation’s critical infrastructure. Working on or near the roadway exposes these individuals to the dangers of speeding vehicles and distracted drivers, resulting in thousands of preventable injuries and fatalities annually.

In 2021, there were a total of 42,000 work zone injuries and 956 fatalities in the United States, according to the National Work Zone Safety Information Clearinghouse. Speeding, inattentive driving, disregarding work zone signs, and other unsafe driver behavior are often the cause of these tragic incidents. Yet, awareness of the risks roadway workers face remains tremendously inadequate, as does the legislation and enforcement needed for their safety.

National Work Zone Awareness Week (April 15-19, 2024) is an opportunity to raise awareness and take action to ensure adequate protection for these workers is in place. Establishing laws and increasing penalties to deter unsafe driving in work zones as well as extending safety measures to all public roadways—not just highways— are essential steps. Consistent enforcement and community-wide driver awareness efforts are equally crucial.

In honor of National Work Zone Awareness Week, I encourage state lawmakers, safety professionals, business leaders, and community members to advocate for meaningful change in the laws created to protect roadway workers. I also urge motorists to do their part and stay alert, obey work zone signs and laws, and keep our communities moving. Together, we can ensure roadway workers return home safely at the end of each day.

Luke Lazar is vice president of Risk and Safety at Flagger Force. Contact@FlaggerForce.