‘Work With Us’: Driver Safety Key In Reducing Prevalent And Deadly Road Construction Zone Accidents

April 18, 2023 | Article by Chain | Cohn | Clark staff

‘Work With Us’: Driver Safety Key In Reducing Prevalent And Deadly Road Construction Zone Accidents

When driving through roadway construction zones, let’s work hand in hand with the people on the ground in the name of safety.

That’s because nationally, 857 people including 117 workers were killed in 774 total deadly work zone crash in 2020, the year with the most complete data. That same year, nearly 7,000 work-zone crashes occurred on California roadways, resulting in more than 3,000 injuries and almost 100 fatalities.

National Work Zone Awareness Week is an annual spring campaign held at the start of construction season to encourage safe driving through highway work zones. The key message is for drivers to use extra caution in work zones. And the safety campaign isn’t just aimed for worker safety. Nationally, drivers and passengers account for 85% of people killed in work zones, according to the California Department of Transportation.

This year’s slogan for the awareness campaign is, “You play a role in work zone safety. Work with us.”

The Associated General Contractors of America‘s 2022 nationwide study on highway work zone safety revealed that 64% of highway contractors reported work zone crashes over the last year. As a result of these work zone crashes, 37% of firms reported project delays, 7% reported worker fatalities, 18% reported worker injuries, 15% reported public fatalities, and 41% reported public injuries.

In fact, speed is a contributing factor in almost 29 percent of 2017 fatal work zone crashes, according to the department of transportation. Speeding drivers are less likely to safely navigate the roadway conditions, lane closures, lane shifts, rough surfaces, and other conditions that are common in work zones. Distracted driving is also a big concern.

Plus it’s against the law to ignore tow trucks, Caltrans vehicles, and other non-emergency vehicles in construction zones. California’s “Move Over, Slow Down” law. It states that drivers coming up on a stationary emergency vehicle displaying emergency lights — applying to local streets and road now, and not just freeways — will be required to move to another lane if possible or slow to a reasonable speed. This extends the state’s “Move Over, Slow Down” law that went into effect in 2020, which allows authorized emergency vehicles to use a “Hi-Lo” warning sound, different from a siren, to let the public know they need to evacuate an area in an emergency.

All of us can take part in observing National Work Zone Accident Week. Here are two ways:

  • Go Orange Day on Wednesday, April 19, where all roadway safety professionals across the country are encouraged to wear orange to proudly show their support of work zone safety. This day is especially important to the families of victims who have lost their lives in work zones.
  • Moment of Silence on Friday, April 21, encourages companies and families to join together for a moment of silence as a tribute to the people who lost their lives in a work zone incident.​

In Bakersfield, construction has been ongoing as workers continue working on the Centennial Corridor, a four-phase freeway project that eventually will connect the Westside Parkway to Highway 99, and the Highway 58 and Highway 99 connector ramps.

“Every driver has a responsibility to protect the lives of workers and fellow motorists on the road,” said Matt Clark, managing partner and attorney at Chain | Cohn | Clark. “A moment of inattention could mean a lifetime of regret. Let’s honor the workers’ dedication and sacrifice by driving with care and ensuring their safety on the road.”

When traveling through work zones, drivers should practice the following work zone safety tips:

  • Plan ahead. Expect delays, plan for them, and leave early to reach your destination on time. When you can, avoid work zones altogether by using alternate routes.
  • Obey road crews and signs. When approaching a work zone, watch for cones, barrels, signs, large vehicles, or workers in bright-colored vests to warn you and direct you where to go.
  • Slow down. Look for signs indicating the speed limit through the work zone. Keep a safe distance from the vehicle ahead of you and follow the posted speed limit.
  • Move over. California has move-over laws when passing work crews and official vehicles parked on the shoulder with flashing warning lights.
  • Avoid distractions. Keep your eyes on the road and off your phone. Just drive.
  • Watch for sudden stoppages. About 25% of fatal work zone crashes involved rear-end collisions.
  • Watch for large vehicles. Don’t make sudden lane changes in front of trucks that are trying to slow down.


If you or someone you know is injured in an accident at the fault of someone else, or injured on the job no matter whose fault it is, contact the attorneys at Chain | Cohn | Clark by calling (661) 323-4000, or fill out a free consultation form, text, or chat with us at chainlaw.com.


*NOTICE: Making a false or fraudulent Workers’ Compensation claim is a felony subject to up to 5 years in a prison or a fine of up to $150,000 or double the value of the fraud, whichever is greater, or by both imprisonment and fine.