National Work Zone Awareness Week: April 11-15, 2022 – help do your part by paying attention to signs and slowing down when you drive to and through work zones and incident response scenes

Crew members work to pave a section of the street in north Seattle. Cars can be seen to the right, driving past the work zone. Photo: SDOT

This week is National Work Zone Awareness Week (April 11-15, 2022), and we’re here to remind you to please pay attention as you approach and drive through work zones to help keep workers, yourself, and other people traveling in the area all safe.

Every day, our team members at the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) are working in Seattle’s streets in marked work zones. Our dedicated professionals work tirelessly to keep the city’s streets clear and safe to travel on day and night, including conducting regular maintenance and building new projects to improve safety and provide mobility throughout the city. In addition to our SDOT crew members, our city colleagues with Seattle City Light and Seattle Public Utilities, work in the streets regularly to help ensure we have reliable power and clean water in our homes. People working for other public agencies and their contractors also regularly work in the public right-of-way, when needed.

Last year in King County, 315 collisions were reported, either in work zones or due to  a traffic backup related to a work zone in the area. We all need to do our part to help keep workers safe while they’re on the job. Members of our SDOT team are community members themselves – they are your neighbors, your friends, and dedicated stewards of our city’s public resources. Our workers have families to get home safely to every day, too. We thank our crew members for working in the street regularly and for their important contributions to keep Seattle’s transportation network working safely and effectively.

This year’s National Work Zone Awareness Week theme is “Work Zones are a Sign to Slow Down.” Please pay attention when you travel through or near work zones, take note of reduced speed limits, changes in lane configurations, detours, closed streets, eliminate distractions, and be watchful for workers and their equipment located in or near the street.

The Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) recognizes work zone awareness throughout the entire month of April, and you can read more in WSDOT’s recent blog post.

This important safety awareness effort also applies to incident first responders working in the street while they respond to collisions and other incidents. We highlighted incident responder awareness on the SDOT Blog last October, during national Crash Responder Safety Week.

An SDOT Incident Response team member responds to an incident on SR 99 in Seattle.
An SDOT Incident Response team member responds to an incident on SR 99 in Seattle. Photo credit: Patricia Westsik, SDOT

To protect people working in and traveling through work zones, please follow these important reminders for safe travel:

  • Be prepared. Before you head out to drive, please check for the latest traffic information by visiting our Seattle travelers information home page, or viewing Google Maps. When you know where active work zones are located, you can better plan ahead for your trip. If needed, you may be able to adjust your start time, or if possible, find alternate routes to avoid work zones altogether.
  • Stay focused and do not drive distracted. Put your phone down and watch the street. Work sites can change daily – please pay attention so you can see and follow traffic patterns. And be aware of all activity taking place around you, including other drivers and people who may be walking, biking, or rolling using a wheelchair or other mobility assisting device in the area. 
  • Follow all street crew instructions and read posted signs. Traffic cones, high-visibility barrels, and other warning signs help people to move safely through work zones, when needed. Flaggers are there both for your safety, as well as the safety of workers on-site.
  • Watch for workers. Every year, workers are killed by vehicles traveling in work zones. In 2020, 117 workers died in highway work zones across the United States, according to the U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics. Each of these workers represents a person with family members, friends, relatives, and people who care about them, and we mourn this tragic loss of life across the country, as well as in our region.
  • Slow down and do not tailgate. Speeding and tailgating can lead to crashes with other vehicles and with workers in the vicinity. Please obey posted work zone speed limits and keep a safe distance between your car and the vehicle ahead of you.
  • Share the street. When you see work crews and official vehicles with flashing warning lights, move over to allow them to pass.
  • Use caution around large vehicles. Larger vehicles often require more time to react and fully stop due to their weight and momentum, so do not make sudden lane changes in front of trucks that are trying to slow down. Use your turn signals, and leave extra space when changing lanes.
  • Remember, protect everyone. Be respectful of workers, fellow drivers, and all people who are walking, biking, and rolling. We need everyone to work together to ensure we are all protected in work zones. As noted earlier in this blog post, everyone on our team working in the public right-of-way deserves to get home safely to their family and friends at the end of each work day.
  • Wear your seatbelt. Seatbelts save lives. They are an important line of defense in the case that a crash does occur.

We’re also taking urgent action to reach our Vision Zero goal to end traffic deaths and serious injuries on city streets by 2030. 

Once more, we again ask you to please drive distraction-free. No text message or email update is worth reading immediately, if it means getting into a serious crash while driving. Please put your phone away – it’s not only the right thing to do, it’s also the law.

Graphic illustrating a person holding a cell phone icon, with the graphic instructing drivers not to use their cell phone wile driving, and text saying "Off the Phone". The background color of the graphic is orange.
Holding the phone while driving is illegal. When on the road, stay off the phone – it’s the law. Photo credit: Washington State Transportation Commission (WSTC).

You can also read these tips to reduce distractions while driving and check out our construction coordination map to see where work zones may be located.

Thank you for doing your part and driving safely around work zones and incident responders in work zones and in the street. We appreciate your time and attention. Let’s all stay safe out there, together.