Work zone crashes rise as VDOT prepares drivers for National Work Zone Awareness Week

SUFFOLK, Va. - The number of work zone crashes are up across the Commonwealth and all this week, the Virginia Department of Transportation is reminding you of some tips to make sure you and those road crews get home safely.

Anyone who drives in Hampton Roads will likely pass a work zone at some point.

Surprisingly, VDOT said it’s not workers who are most at risk during a crash but the person behind the wheel.

There were 2,666 crashes in 2017, a 9.8% increase from 2016.

“They’re out here to do a job and they’re out here trying to make there roads safer for motorist to travel,” VDOT spokesperson Nina Napolitano said. “So if the motorist isn’t 100 percent focused behind the wheel and causes an incident that causes a loss of life - it’s really sad. It’s a preventable incident.”

About 900 of the 2,666 crashes happened here in Hampton Roads.

VDOT said four out of five fatalities are drivers.

They want to remind you that when you’re coming up on a work site, never speed, tailgate the car in front of you, or change lanes.

“A little bit of patience, a little bit of understanding, a little bit of extra attention behind the wheel can go a long way in helping our employees get home safely to their families at night," Napolitano  described.

Instead you should follow the signs, focus, and be patient.

“A work zone is scarier than you can really even imagine. They said it’s shocking to see their friends injured, not knowing if they’re alive or dead. They have close calls multiple times a week with mostly motorist they believe are not paying attention on the roads,” Napolitano told News 3.

Hampton Roads likely had the highest number of crashes because of the major projects like the I-64 widening project and the I-64/I-264 interchange improvements.

Most of these crashes happen in the daylight.

One of the best things is to know before you go.

VDOT said always check traffic conditions using 5-1-1 to prepare you for what’s ahead.