Driving Change in Work Zone Safety

April 17, 2024


In a country that is always striving to move forward, construction is a vital improvement method and is a common scene in our communities. Perhaps no other type of worksite has as much visibility – and interaction – with the public as road construction, with millions of motorists passing closely by road construction sites each day. 

While road work sites take special care in providing high visibility barriers to create zones of protection around the men and women working to keep America moving, the vibrant shades of high visibility cones, vests, and signs alerting drivers to slow down can unfortunately go unseen, fading into the background of a daily commute. 

According to the Associated General Contractors of America, 55% of contractors in 2023 reported that vehicles had crashed into their work zones during the past year. Shockingly, this number shows progress from 2022, which clocked in at an astounding 64%. It's an improvement, but far from tolerable, with less than half of work zones escaping unscathed.

All motorists have a role in promoting work zone safety and creating a slower, more attentive environment for everyone sharing the road. We can all follow simple measures that encourage greater notice of those well-established construction signals and greater consideration of the lives behind them.   

Rules of the [work zone] road:
  1. Be alert for signals indicating lane closures and road work ahead.
  2. Avoid distractions and give your full attention to the road.
  3. Reduce your speed.
  4. Pay attention to other motorists.
  5. Avoid making any sudden maneuvers.
  6. Yield the right-of-way to any work zone vehicles.
  7. Do not brake suddenly or weave between lanes
  8. Be mindful of changing road surface conditions.
  9. Maintain space around your vehicle.
  10. Always be patient.


Atkinson and the Washington State Department of Transportation test a new safety initiative on the SR 167/I-5 to SR 509 – New Expressway project, painting orange lane striping along white lane lines to test whether brightly colored paint helps improve work zone awareness.

Clark, Shirley, and Atkinson are also taking major industry steps towards eliminating serious incidents within our work zones by forming the Work Zone Safety Task Force. 

“With safety, we are always striving to raise the bar not only for our company but the industry as a whole,” said Eric Long, Clark Construction vice president and chair of the Work Zone Safety Task Force. “This effort is the latest initiative to do just that by bringing together our resources and experts in operations, safety, risk, legal, technology, and public policy.” 

 With a mission to enact gold standard practices and create long-lasting industry-wide change, the Task Force is strategically reviewing and piloting measures that will enhance the safety of workers and the traveling public, such as increasing the use of cameras to capture unsafe situations or actions, positive barrier protection, and various emerging technologies, including intrusion alarm systems and mobile barriers.

Roadways are an invaluable part of our country’s transportation network, but the lives of the construction workers building them and the motorists using them are priceless. Be mindful of the role we all play in keeping them safe.