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VDOT says work zone crashes increased in 2021

Published: Apr. 13, 2022 at 6:27 PM EDT
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HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) - It is National Work Zone Awareness Week and the Virginia Department of Transportation is urging drivers to be on alert when traveling through work zones.

According to VDOT, there were 4,854 work zone crashes in Virginia in 2021. That’s a 41% increase from 2020.

There were also 1,861 injuries in work zone crashes and 28 fatalities, both of those numbers also up from 2020.

The VDOT Staunton District which encompasses the Shenandoah Valley had 81 work zone crashes and 35 injuries in 2021.

VDOT set up a simulated work zone Wednesday at its Harrisonburg location to show signage and equipment drivers may see on the road.

VDOT’s theme for National Work Zone Awareness Week is work zones are a sign to slow down.

“This week and every day it’s about behaviors. It’s about the behaviors of our drivers, it’s about the behaviors of our crew members. Everybody has a job in a work zone and the job is to pay attention. Don’t drive distracted, don’t speed,” said Sandy Myers, communication specialist for VDOT’s Staunton District.

VDOT said speeding and distracted driving are the two biggest causes of work zone crashes. Speeding crashes in work zones increased by 35% in 2021 and distracted driving crashes in work zones increased by 27%.

When entering a work zone, VDOT said it is also important to be on high alert and expect the unexpected.

“There could be trucks moving around, people could move around unexpectedly. Other drivers can react in unexpected ways so you need to have already slowed down and be very aware of your surroundings,” said Myers.

VDOT’s Staunton District asks drivers to be extra cautious to protect both its work crews and other drivers.

“The Valley is great, the people are great, everybody really wants to do the right thing but accidents happen. And so it’s just a week to tell our people ‘hey look out for the guys with these vests on’ they’re your uncle, they’re your aunt, they’re your cousin and they’re trying to make the roads safer for you,” said Don Komara, VDOT Harrisonburg Residency Engineer.

Komara said it’s especially important to drive safely in work zones with all of the construction projects coming to the Valley in the next several years.

“When you got good work going on you’re gonna have work zones, you’re gonna have backups,” he said. “We’ve got a great bridge project going on on 682 in Mount Crawford, give us the patience we’ll get through this summer and we’ll be back open for business with a newer better bridge there.”

You can learn more about Work Zone Awareness Week here.

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