1,000 Die Each Year in Highway Construction Accidents

April 14, 2004

Accidents in highway construction zones kill more than 1,000 people each year, and most of them are drivers, according to Federal Highway Administrator Mary Peters.

“We’re asking drivers to remember that for thousands of men and women, their workplace is the highway,” said Peters, who rode a motorcycle to the side of a Washington highway to make the announcement.

Peters said 1,181 people died and 52,000 were injured in work zone crashes in 2002. That was 53 percent more than in 1998. Four out of five of those who die in work zone crashes are drivers and passengers, not highway workers, she said. Peters said the number of deaths is rising because highway construction is increasing.

Texas had the most work zone deaths by far in 2002, with 192. California had the second-highest number, with 119. Alaska, Connecticut, North Dakota, Rhode Island and Utah had one each, according to statistics from the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials.

The government is trying to reduce the numbers by encouraging the use of long-lasting pavement that needs fewer repairs and encouraging total road closures when appropriate, she said. Peters also urged drivers not to tailgate in work zones, saying rear-end crashes are the most common type of accident in work zones.

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