DOT Going Orange

The Washington State Department of Transportation has turned its Web site orange, covered part of its headquarters in orange and is encouraging its employees to wear orange for work zone awareness week. I presume that’s because orange is synoymous with work sites.

OK, so work zone safety might not be that sexy, but here are some interesting tidbits.

Fifty-four people were killed in work zone accidents since January 2000. What’s weird is that 99 percent of people injured or killed aren’t the workers but drivers and passengers. Pedestrians, flaggers and roadway workers account for only 1 percent of injuries and fatalities. Rear-end collisions cause most of them.

Here’s a shocker. A recent survey asked drivers whether they slowed down when they entered work zones. Four out of five said they did, but radar showed that all of them were lying.

DOT now has a small SUV it can park along work zones. In it is an automated traffic safety camera. If it catches somebody speeding, it takes a picture of the vehicle’s rear license plate.

WSDOT hasn’t had a worker killed since 2002, but four contractor workers died in the past two years.

Wednesdays in August is the most likely time for a work zone accident. Traffic flaggers are most at risk. Speeding and not paying attention are the main causes.