WSDOT pleas for safer driving in work zones after more workers injured in crash

Mar 8, 2024, 8:17 AM | Updated: 8:26 am

work zones wsdot...

60 hard hats and cones lined the hallway of WSDOT's Headquarters Transportation Building for the department's Worker Memorial in 2023. (Photo courtesy of WSDOT)

(Photo courtesy of WSDOT)

The Washington Department of Transportation (WSDOT) is pleading with drivers to slow down when approaching work zones, where a large number of accidents have been recorded.

This department-issued plea came after three workers were injured after a car crashed into a construction work zone along Interstate 5 in Federal Way this week. The driver of the car allegedly rammed into two of their maintenance crew vehicles. All three of the injured workers were evaluated at a hospital and were subsequently released.

More on Wash. roads: Lanes reopened on I-5 in Seattle after collision, delays still expected

“The work zones that are set up with different equipment and vehicles are there to keep both of them safe and the people traveling on the road safe,” Aisha Dayal, WSDOT spokesperson, told KOMO News.

According to WSDOT, there are an average of 626 highway work zone accidents per year in the state. The top three causes are following too closely, speeding and distracted driving. Almost 95% of the people injured or killed in work zone collisions are drivers and their passengers.

Nationally, there were 863 fatalities in work zones, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation, in 2020. In 2021, fatalities increased by 10.8%.

“A lot of these collisions are avoidable. They’re caused by people going too fast, not paying attention, being impaired,” Dayal said, according to KOMO News. “These are all things drivers can do and look out for. It’s not just a nameless, faceless person that’s out there. These are people that have a story they want to get home safe at the end of the day.”

Earlier this year, WSDOT reported six workers were injured after a vehicle slammed into their trucks. Officials stated that two pickups, carrying three workers each, parked on the shoulder of I-5 while waiting for lane closures to repair potholes. Within 90 seconds, a driver traveling more than 60 mph drifted into the shoulder and crashed into the rear of one truck, pushing it into the rear of the other, according to WSDOT. The driver was believed to be under the influence.

Of the six injured, four required trips to the hospital via ambulance.

“If it sounds like we’re angry … we’re angry,” a WSDOT Facebook post read. “This happens all too often. The people working out on the roads are just that, people. They aren’t just vests and hard hats.”

More on Wash. roads: ‘Doesn’t enhance public safety’: Bill allows speed cameras to ticket responding police

In Washington, drivers are required to move over when approaching work or emergency zones. If changing lanes is unsafe, drivers are required to slow down to 10 mph below the posted speed limit.

Since 1950, 61 WSDOT employees have lost their lives in work zone-related activities. Each spring, WSDOT holds a Worker’s Memorial to honor those fallen workers and remind everyone about the importance of work zone safety. This year’s Worker Memorial Ceremony will be held on April 2 at 10 a.m.

Frank Sumrall is a content editor at MyNorthwest. You can read his stories here and you can email him here.

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