Yuma, Arizona - Did you know that more drivers and passengers are affected by work zone injuries and fatalities than workers? Nationally, work zone crashes occur at an average of one per every 5.8 minutes. The top three causes? Following too closely, inattentive and/or distracted driving, and excessive speed. The Yuma County Public Works Department will hold a series of activities next week that are open to the public.

National Work Zone Awareness Week takes place each year during the beginning of “construction season” to remind road users to be mindful and use their best judgment when encountering work zones. Improved roads and new construction are often welcome additions to a community, but it’s not always possible to completely close a street or highway to vehicles or pedestrians when construction or repair work is being performed. When this is the case, roads you’re used to traveling on may temporarily become work zones.

Unfortunately, work zones are among the most dangerous places to drive due to altered traffic patterns, poor visibility, and other hazards and distractions.

Roadside flaggers do their best to direct motorists and other road users around the work zone while keeping everybody safe. But even the best preparation doesn’t always prevent collisions or other work zone incidents. Reduced speeds and long wait times, altered traffic patterns, and confusing traffic flow mean other drivers are likely to be distracted, frustrated, or aggressive. In addition, visibility may be impaired due to construction equipment or features of the road such as hills or curves.

In short, work zones can be confusing—and dangerous— places for the average motorist. And drivers and passengers are actually more likely to be killed or injured in a work zone than workers are.

According to the Federal Highway Administration, between 2018 and 2019, fatal crashes in work zones increased by 11 percent despite a 2 percent decrease in crashes outside of work zones. The majority of these work zone fatalities were due to rear-end collisions.