National Work Zone Awareness Week (NWZAW) is an annual spring campaign held at the start of construction season to encourage safe driving through highway work zones and construction sites. The key message is for drivers to use extra caution in work zones. For more information, Visit the Website.
History of NWZAW
National Work Zone Awareness Week (NWZAW) is an event that takes place across the United States, with partnerships between state departments of transportation (DOT), national road safety organizations, government agencies, private companies, and individuals.
How did this work zone safety awareness campaign get started?
In 1997, a group of Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) staff members, located in southwestern Virginia, wanted to dedicate a week to raise awareness about work zone safety among all district employees before construction projects picked up during the warmer months. Following the successful promotion of this first event, VDOT brought the idea of raising awareness to other DOTs, and in 1999 the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) began its statewide public awareness campaign, “Slow for the Cone Zone.”
However, it was 1998 when VDOT first presented the idea to create a national campaign to ATSSA officials. In December of 1999, ATSSA approached the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and the American Association of State Highway Transportation Officials (AASHTO) to launch the first official NWZAW. They developed an agreement between the organizations, that outlined goals for NWZAW efforts:
- Initiate efforts to raise awareness of the need for more caution when driving through work zones to decrease fatalities and injuries;
- Establish and promote a uniform set of safety tips;
- The value of training and importance of best practices in regard to work zone safety would be promoted among individuals in the private sector, industry, and roadway workers;
- Reach out to both roadway workers and contractors to communicate possible effects of motorists’ behavior in response to traffic delays, and advise on what steps might possibly be taken to lessen negative behavior; and
- Outreach efforts would be made to work with entities involved with work zone safety and to form partnerships.
The first official NWZAW kick-off event was held in 2000 in Springfield, Virginia. The site where the kick-off event is held now alternates each year from being hosted in the Washington, D.C., area to different locations across the United States. State transportation departments can submit applications to host the event on those alternate years.
This year, NWZAW is April 8-12. For this 20th year, NWZAW’s kick-off event will be held in Washington, D.C. and hosted by the District Department of Transportation (DDOT) on April 9, and Go Orange Day is on April 10. All are encouraged to wear orange and post photos to help celebrate Go Orange Day.