Work Zone Crashes, Injuries, & Fatalities


Between 2013 and 2019, work zone fatalities increased 42%. In 2019, over 115,000 work zone crashes were estimated to have occured resulting in over 39,000 injuries and 842 fatalities. 8 , 9 In a 2019 survey, 67% of highway contractors reported crashes into their work zones and 89% think positive protection would improve safety on their projects. 4

In 2020, during the COVID-19 pandemic, work zone crashes & fatalities have increased despite lower traffic volumes. 20 , 21 , 22 , 23

The rising number of accidents, injuries, and fatalities highlight the need for positive protection. In 2016, USDOT set the value of a single life at $9.6 million dollars. 13 California research found a cost benefit for highly mobile barrier of $1.9 million per year, per barrier. 14


"Motorists will inevitably make mistakes. Too often they pay for their mistakes with their lives – or the lives of innocent bystanders.... We have the technology and 'know how' to build our roadway system to anticipate user error. It can be designed, constructed, equipped, and operated to forgive the errant user and protect the innocent victim."


"We have the technology and 'know how' to build our roadway system to anticipate user error. It can be designed, constructed, equipped, and operated to forgive the errant user and protect the innocent victim."



2019 Contractor Reported Work Zone Crashes, Project Delays, Injuries, & Fatalities


The Associated General Contractors of America's (AGC) 2019 nationwide study on highway work zone safety reveals that 67% of highway contractors report work zone intrusions, of which 62% involved project delays, 8% worker fatalities, 28% worker injuries, 28% public fatalities, and 70% public injuries. 4


Illustration showing 67% of contractors experienced a work zone incursion in 2019.

In 2019, 67% of Highway Contractors Reported Crashes
into their Construction Work Zones

AGC Study - Outcomes of Work Zone Crashes 4 , 5
(Mouseover data points for details.)

AGC Study - Percentage of Contractors
Reporting Work Zone Crashes Over Time 4 , 5 , 6 , 7 , 19 , 18 , 17


The 2019 study also reveals that an increasing percentage of contractors believe positive protection would improve safety on their projects.

  • 73% of contractors reported that the risk of highway work zone crashes is greater now compared to a decade ago.
  • 89% of contractors report that increased use of positive protection barriers would help reduce injuries and fatalities on their projects.


Estimated National Work Zone Crashes & Injuries 8


The number of crashes in work zones and injuries resulting from those crashes has been increasing.

  • In 2019, an estimated 115,000 crashes and 38,900 injuries were estimated to have occurred in work zones.


Estimated Work Zone Crashes and Resulting Injuries


Estimated Work Zone Crashes & Injuries Data are obtained from NHTSA statistical models (NASS/GES & CRSS). The NHTSA statistical models under-estimate the subset of fatalities occuring in work zones by as much as 64% in 2019 (see Table 1 below).

Table 1. NHTSA CRSS Statistical Model Estimates for Fatalities Resulting from Work Zone Crashes:
20152016201720182019
Recorded Fatalities
(FARS)
701781806754842
Estimated Fatalities
(CRSS Statistical Model)
349525597636298
Percent Error -50%-32%-26%-15%-64%

National Work Zone Crash Fatalities 9


Work zone crash fatalities have been on the rise nationally.

  • 42% increase in fatalities since 2013.


Fatalities Resulting from Work Zone Crashes

.
.

Footnotes


8 Estimated Total Crashes & Injuries Data: 2013-2015 data from NHTSA National Automotive Sampling General Estimates System (NASS/GES). NHTSA retired NASS/GES at the end of 2015. 2016-2019 data from NHTSA's replacement Crash Report Sampling System (CRSS).
9 Fatalities Data: NHTSA Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) Encyclopedia. 2019 is the last year with available data.
14 UC Davis/AHMCT, “A Risk Assessment and Cost Benefit Analysis for [Highly Mobile Barriers],” Technical Report Number UCD-ARR-08-09-30-01, (2008). Ibid, Attachment 3.
15 Mobile Barriers LLC internal crash analysis for Washington D.C. located highly mobile barrier.
16 Former Deputy Executive Director of the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT).
24 An Optimization Methodology to Improve Work Zone Safety within a Limited Budget in a Roadway Network, Promothes Saha, Ph.D., International Conference on Transportation and Development 2020 : Transportation Safety.


-->