WSDOT: 9 collisions at job sites leading up to work zone safety campaign

Road repair season has just begun, but 2024 is already trending to be a dangerous year for construction crews with Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT). Officials said there were nine work zone crashes on state highways last week, four of which happened on the same day, and three happened within the same hour.

April 15-19 is recognized as the 2024 National Work Zone Awareness Week. Tending the roads across Washington can be hazardous work. Those who sign up to do the job said they know their lives are on the line.

"It definitely feels like a personal attack when someone comes screeching past you, or they’re ignoring your signs, your lights," said Aaron Weaver, a supervisor for WSDOT’s Incident Response Team.

WSDOT is using the whole month of April to raise awareness about the severity of work zone collisions. In 2023, 10 people died in work zone crashes, 369 people were hurt.

"95 percent of collisions that happen in work zones where people are injured - the drivers are injured, their passengers and pedestrians. So, it’s really for the safety of the whole traveling public, not just our workers. We want to make sure that everyone gets home safely," said Aisha Dayal, WSDOT spokesperson.

Officials said most work zone collisions are caused by human error.

"Following too closely, excessive speed and not paying attention. Things that are avoidable, these collisions should not be happening," said Dayal.

In Jan. 2024, a driver suspected of DUI barreled through a work zone on I-5 in Vancouver, which hospitalized six WSDOT workers trying to do their job. Repairing guardrails on I-5 in Federal Way was nearly a disaster for three WSDOT workers in March. The crew was hospitalized after a car crashed through their work zone.

Before becoming a supervisor, Weaver recalled a time when his life was at risk while on the job.

"I was in the process of formulating a plan to get their vehicle out of the roadway blocking the left lane. And as I was walking back to get into my truck to tow their vehicle clear, my vehicle was struck by a vehicle going 60 miles an hour," said Weaver.

WSDOT said crews set up traffic control plans with signs, cones, trucks, and lights at every construction site for workers and drivers to share the road safely. The Incident Response Team, however, does not have those tools as most times crews respond to collisions that require immediate action.

Still, WSDOT and workers asked drivers to do their part in keeping the roads safe by slowing down near work zones and collisions and giving crews room to work.


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"Anytime you do see red flashing lights, amber flashing lights, blue flashing lights, any sort of vehicle stopped on the side of the road or in the road, please, please slow down and give us space. We don’t enjoy hanging out in the roadway. We’re out there to do a job or trying to get the road clear and safe for everyone," said Weaver.