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New study: Highway construction zones are still dangerous places

Courtesy of Washington Department of Transportation

A new survey from the Associated General Contractors of America says more than half of road construction companies report at least one work zone accident during the past year.

For the last six years, the Associated General Contractors of America has surveyed companies that do road and highway construction work to ask about workplace safety.

The association's chief economist, Ken Simonson, says the news is as grim this year as it was with the first survey.

“97% of our respondents said that the traffic situation in work zones is as bad or worse than the year before and it does keep seeming to get worse," he said. "More people are distracted. They’re driving too fast. And, as the number of vehicles increases and the number of work zones increases, I think things get even worse."

The survey reports 55% of road construction companies reported at least one vehicle crash at their work sites within the last year.

That includes the damage done during those accidents.

“The companies that responded to this survey, twice as many said that drivers or passengers had been injured in these crashes as construction workers," he said.

The results from AGC's survey are consistent with what's going on in Washington and Idaho.

Washington state transportation officials report 28 traffic fatalities in highway work zones during the last three years. Idaho officials report 36 deaths and more than 31-hundred crashes in work zones between 2017 and 2021.

Construction company officials are calling on local and state governments to do more to make highway zones safer places.

In Washington, Governor Inslee recently signed a provision that allows the use of traffic cameras in state highway work zones to enforce speed limits.

Simonson also cites a new law in Oklahoma that requires applicants for drivers licenses to take a one-hour traffic zone safety course before they test for their licenses.

One of the Northwest's most seasoned reporters is returning to his SPR roots. Doug Nadvornick will be heard frequently on KPBX and KSFC reporting on local news.