AGC: 64% of Highway Contractors Report Work Zone Crashes

More highway contractors are seeing crashes inside their work zones, with 64% reporting such incidents in a new survey by the Associated General Contractors of America.

That marks a 9 percentage-point increase over last year’s Work Zone Awareness Survey, cosponsored by HCSS.

AGC is calling on state legislatures to enact tougher laws, including automated speed-camera enforcement, to increase worker safety. The association also released two new public safety videos – ahead of the busy summer travel season – to urge drivers to slow down and pay attention when driving through work zones. (You can watch the videos at the end of this story.)

“Bad driving behavior and lax work zone safety laws don’t just put construction workers at greater risk,” said Jeffrey Shoaf, the association’s chief executive officer. “Our new data shows that drivers and their passengers are in even greater danger from highway work zone crashes.”

He noted that 66% of crash injuries reported in the survey were suffered by drivers or passengers. That’s more than double the 29% of workers who were reportedly injured.

Such crashes are also more likely to kill drivers and passengers than workers. The survey revealed 9% of contractors reporting worker fatalities versus 24% of drivers or passengers killed in work zone crashes.

Michael Alford of N.C.-based paving contractor S.T. Wooten spoke of how the company lost an asphalt superintendent a little over a year ago to a work zone crash. C.J. Bryant, a 33-year-old father of four, was working on the I-40 expansion project in Garner at 3:20 a.m. when an SUV entered the zone designated by orange barrels, struck equipment and hit Bryant. Jeyson Alexander Murcia-Guillen, 20, of Smithfield, was arrested on charges of felony death by vehicle, felony hit-and-run, driving after consuming, no operator’s license, resisting an officer, fictitious registration and operating a vehicle with no liability insurance, among other charges.

“That family of four kids lost their dad. That’s something that’s got to stop,” said Alford. “Our folks deserve to come out and work amongst the roads safely just like people working in offices. And the people who are driving these roads need to pay attention to what’s going on.”

He also reported a lack of concern – and even violence against workers – by drivers.

“We’ve seen things from bottles being thrown at our employees, windows being shot out by BB guns, flaggers being struck,” he said.

AGC says it is pushing Congress to require data on work zone crashes be collected by the the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and that states create plans to reduce such crashes. It is also working with its chapters to push for better enforcement and education measures.

To read the full survey results, click here.

AGC’s new public service videos are posted below: