Posted on April 16, 2024

TxDOT, NMDOT, EPE and Law Enforcement Partner for National Work Zone Awareness Week

EL PASO, Texas (April 15, 2024) - The Texas Department of Transportation and regional partners are joining forces to recognize National Work Zone Awareness Week (NWZAW) April 15-19, 2024.

NWZAW, now in its 24th year, is a national public awareness campaign that spreads the message throughout the U.S. that everyone shares the responsibility for work zone safety. This year’s theme is "Work Zones are temporary. Actions behind the wheel can last forever.”

TxDOT, the New Mexico Department of Transportation, El Paso Electric and regional law enforcement urge the public to drive carefully in and around work zones. Texas alone has more than 1,900 active work zones across the state.

“Keeping our Texas highway system functioning and safe requires constant effort from dedicated crews,” TxDOT Executive Director Marc Williams said. “Drivers should anticipate work zones and changing road conditions and always be prepared to slow down, follow signs and pay attention.”

In Texas last year there were 26,000 traffic crashes in work zones. This is a 3% increase in crashes in work zones from the previous year (25,453 in 2022). Of the 190 people killed in work zone crashes in 2023, 77% were drivers or their passengers.

In the El Paso District (six counties) in 2023, there were 1,102 traffic crashes in work zones, resulting in 10 fatalities and 28 serious injuries. In El Paso (city), there were 835 traffic crashes in work zones, resulting in 7 fatalities and 20 serious injuries.

“Road crews are often working only a few feet away from fast-moving vehicles and are counting on drivers to pay attention to traffic control devices and flashing signs to keep them safe,” said TxDOT El Paso District Engineer Tomas Treviño. “The public should be aware we are working for them, and our men and women out there have family and friends they want to go home to at the end of each day.”

Following two consecutive years of declines in the number of traffic fatalities in work zones in Texas, partners are urging drivers to help continue this trend by slowing down, staying alert, and obeying posted signage when driving through road construction or maintenance areas. Speeding, driver inattention and unsafe lane changes are the top three factors in work zone crashes.

“Developing good driving habits can help you navigate through a work zone without any regrets.” said NMDOT District Engineer Aaron Chavarria. “It is important to be considerate towards the workers and other drivers who are on the road with you. You can ensure your safety and the safety of others by making it a habit to reduce your speed and follow the construction signs in a work zone. Let's all work together to get home safely."

To help spread awareness, the NMDOT introduced the newest member of their team, a roadrunner mascot named “Zippy”, dedicated to promoting work zone safety across the state. Zippy’s mission is clear: to educate drivers, pedestrians, and workers about the importance of staying safe in work zones. He joins TxDOT’s Work Zone Willy, Safe-T-Rex, and Safe-T-Jake – all creatures built from recycled safety barrels.

With a booming economy and growing population, construction and maintenance work on Texas and New Mexico roads is essential and has the region’s power provider accommodating for growth.

"National Work Zone Awareness Week highlights the crucial role that El Paso Electric's line workers play in the energy delivery to our customers. Whether under the daytime sun or the quiet darkness of overnight shifts, these dedicated individuals work tirelessly to ensure that power flows reliably,” said Dave Hawkins, vice president of operations support. “As motorists navigate their daily communities, they may encounter work zones put in place to upgrade EPE infrastructure. EPE reminds the community that their responsibility is to respect signage and barricades and help us safeguard our crews who are committed to maintaining our energy delivery system.”

Drivers are also reminded of the Move Over/Slow Down law that is intended to help protect roadside crews and first responders. The law requires drivers to move over a lane or reduce their speed to 20 mph below the posted speed limit when they approach a TxDOT vehicle, law enforcement, emergency vehicle, tow truck or utility vehicle stopped with flashing lights activated on the side of the road. Failure to follow the Move Over/Slow Down law can result in fines of up to $1,250 for a first offense. Stricter penalties for drivers who cause serious injuries by failing to follow these rules now include possible jail time and a fine of up to $4,000.

Tips for driving safely in a work zone:

  • Slow down. Speeding is one of the major causes of work zone crashes.
  • Don’t tailgate. Keep a safe distance between you, the car ahead of you, the construction workers, and their equipment.
  • Pay attention to detours and traffic control, watch for speed reduction and changes in configuration.
  • Stay alert and minimize distractions. No phones, loud music, makeup, or food.
  • Be patient and stay calm.

To spread work zone safety awareness and encourage safe driving behaviors, roadway safety professionals are encouraged to wear orange on April 17 for Go Orange Day. The Star on the Mountain will also turn orange for the night.

More about the week: National Work Zone Awareness Week is an initiative that began in 1999 and is conducted each spring by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) and the American Traffic Safety Services Association (ATSSA), to bring awareness to work zone safety issues. The campaign focuses on offering safety tips for drivers to help them to be safe and drive smart in work zones. For online information about National Work Zone Awareness Week, go to:

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