Work Zone Mobility and Safety Program
Photo collage: temporary lane closure, road marking installation, cone with mounted warning light, and drum separated work zones.
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Facts and Statistics - Work Zone Injuries and Fatalities

Work Zone Crash Data

  • There were 87,606 crashes in work zones in 2010. This is 1.6% of the total number of roadway crashes (5,419,345) in 2010.
  • Most crashes in work zones do not lead to fatalities.
    • In 2010 work zone crashes, 0.6% were fatal crashes, 30% were injury crashes, and 69% were property damage only crashes.
    • In a study of five states ("Identification of Work Zone Crash Characteristics"), the majority (72.2%) of work zone crashes led to property damage only. In the five states, 0.7% of work zone crashes were fatal.
  • Daytime vs. Nighttime Work
    • Approximately 70% of road construction site fatalities between 2003 and 2007 occurred between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 4:59 p.m. (Fatal Occupational Injuries at Road Construction Sites, 2003-07 (PDF 254KB))
    • NCHRP Report 627, "Traffic Safety Evaluation of Nighttime and Daytime Work Zones" (PDF 3MB) presents data that differentiates work zone crashes between daytime (6 am – 7 pm) and nighttime (7 pm – 6 am) based on work zone crash data in California, North Carolina, Ohio, and Washington. The report found that overall, working at night does not result in a significantly greater crash risk for an individual motorist traveling through the work zone than does working during the day. The table below shows the percentage of crashes by collision type for the 17,228 crashes studied:
      Percentage of Crashes by Collision Type for the 17,228 Crashes Studied
      Type of Collision
      Night Work
      Day Work
      Active Work With Lane Closures Active Work Without Lane Closures No Active Work or Lane Closures Active Work With Lane Closures Active Work Without Lane Closures No Active Work or Lane Closures
      Rear-End Crashes 38.4% 33.6% 26% 46.9% 54.4% 48.7%
      Sideswipe Collisions 15.8% 21% 15% 13.6% 14.8% 14.8%
      Fixed-Object Collisions 22.8% 21% 31.9% 20.3% 10.3% 15.9%
      All Other Collision Types 23.1% 24.4% 25.2% 19.2% 20.6% 14.1%

Work Zone Injuries

  • There were 37,476 injuries in work zones in 2010. This equates to one work zone injury every 14 minutes (96 a day), or about four people injured every hour.
  • More than 20,000 workers are injured in road construction work zones each year. According to a presentation on Injury Hazards in Road and Bridge Construction (PDF 12.4MB), between 2003-2008, these injuries were caused by:
    • Contact with objects or equipment (35%)
    • Slips, trips, or falls (20%)
    • Overexertion (15%)
    • Transportation incidents (12%)
    • Exposure to harmful substances or environments (5%).

Work Zone Fatalities

Overall Work Zone Fatalities

This data comes from National Work Zone Safety Information Clearinghouse Work Zone Fatalities, FARS Data, and Traffic Safety Facts 2010 (PDF 2.3MB).

  • Work Zone Fatalities: In 2010, there were 514 fatal motor vehicle crashes in work zones, resulting in 576 fatalities.
    • These 576 fatalities equate to one work zone fatality every 15 hours (1.6 a day).
    • The number of fatalities is a 13.6% decrease from 2009 (667 fatalities), a 20% decrease from 2008 (720 fatalities), a 31% decrease from 2007 (831 fatalities), a 43% decrease from 2006 (1,004 fatalities), and a 46% decrease from 2005 (1,058 fatalities).
  • Work Zone Fatalities compared to Total Annual VMT: Between 2002 and 2010, work zone fatalities decreased by 51% while total annual VMT grew from 2.829 billion to 2.967 billion, an increase of 4.8%. Travel on our roads increased overall during this period, so VMT through work zones likely showed a similar pattern.
  • Work Zone Fatalities compared to Overall Highway Fatalities: While highway fatalities are declining overall, the rate of decline in work zone fatalities has been much higher. Overall highway fatalities declined 23% from 2002 to 2010, while work zone fatalities declined 51% during the same eight year period.
    • 576 work zone fatalities equates to 2% of all roadway fatalities in 2010

Characteristics of Work Zone Fatal Crashes Based on 2008 Data

The 2008 work zone fatality data presented in this section is based on the report, "Identification of Work Zone Crash Characteristics," (PDF 4.5MB) and the presentation, "What We Know About Work Zone Fatalities (and What We Don't)" given by Tracy Scriba at 2010 TRB Annual Meeting.

  • There were 720 work zone fatalities in 2008.
  • Crash Factors: Of the 720 work zone fatalities in 2008:
    • Lack of seatbelt use was a factor in 383 (53%)
    • Speeding was a factor in 225 (31%)
    • Alcohol was cited as a factor in 146 (20%).
    • Time of Day – 60% day (6am to 9pm) and 40% night (9pm to 6am). Injury crashes were more common during day hours.
    • Day of Week – Most often Wednesday, Friday, Saturday.
    • Time of Year – Most often in Summer and Fall (June, September, October).
  • Location of Crashes: Of the 720 work zone fatalities in 2008:
    • 22% of fatal work zone crashes occurred on urban interstates (compared to 6% of all fatal crashes)
    • 59% of fatal work zone crashes occurred on roads with speed limit of 55 mph or more (compared to 49% of all fatal crashes)
  • Type of Crash: Of the 720 work zone fatalities in 2008, 41% of crashes were rear-end collisions (compared to 16% of all fatal crashes)
  • Type of Vehicle:
    • On average, 85% of deaths in work zones were drivers and passengers in cars
    • Between 2000-2008, about 25% of work zone motor vehicle fatalities had involvement of large trucks, while 12% of all highway fatalities have involved large trucks.

Webinar on Work Zone Fatality Reduction Strategies - Held on May 23, 2012

  • Recording
  • Transcript (HTML, PDF 110KB)
  • Introduction Presentation, by Tracy Scriba, FHWA (HTML, PDF 476KB)
  • California Presentation, by Joe Jeffrey, Road-Tech Safety Services (HTML, PDF 467KB))
  • Florida Presentation, by Stefanie Maxwell, Florida Department of Transportation (HTML, PDF 3.2MB)
  • North Carolina Presentation, by Steve Kite, North Carolina Department of Transportation (HTML, PDF 319KB)

Worker Fatalities

The following facts and statistics were obtained using data from a presentation on Injury Hazards in Road and Bridge Construction (PDF 12.4MB), Fatal Occupational Injuries at Road Construction Sites (PDF 43KB), and Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries (PDF 240KB), unless otherwise noted.

  • Workplace fatalities that occur at a road construction site typically account for 1.5% to 3% of all workplace fatalities annually.
  • Fatality Trends: Roadway construction worker fatalities reached a high point in 2005 with 165 fatalities. Between 2005 and 2008 the numbers declined, then rose slightly in 2009, and declined again in 2010.
    Roadway Construction Worker Fatalities Between Years 2005-2010
    Year # of fatalities % change from prior year % change from 2005
    2010 106 −9% −36%
    2009 116 +15% −30%
    2008 101 −5% −39%
    2007 106 −24% −36%
    2006 139 −16% −16%
    2005 165 --- ---
  • Fatality Causes: The primary causes of worker fatalities in recent years were:
    • Runovers/backovers (often by dump trucks): 48%
    • Collision Between Vehicles/Mobile Equipment: 14%
    • Caught in Between/Struck by Construction Equipment and Objects: 14%
  • Runovers/Backovers: Nearly half of worker fatalities are caused when workers are run over or backed over by vehicles or mobile equipment. More than half of these fatalities were workers struck by construction vehicles.
    • Between 2005 and 2010 runovers/backovers were the cause of an average of 48% of worker fatalities. In 2010 runovers/backovers were the cause of 43% of worker fatalities, a slight decline from 2009 (46%).
    • For these types of fatalities, between 2003 and 2007, more workers were struck and killed by construction vehicles (38%) than by cars, vans, and tractor-trailers (33%).
  • Vehicle Collisions: The second most common cause of worker fatalities are collisions between vehicles/mobile equipment.
    • Between 2005 and 2010 this was the cause of an average of 14% of worker fatalities each year. In 2010 this was the cause of 19% of worker fatalities. This is a slight increase from 2009 (16%).
  • Caught in Between or Struck by Object: The third most common cause of worker fatalities are workers caught between or struck by construction equipment and objects.
    • Between 2005 and 2010 this was the cause of an average of 14% of worker fatalities. In 2010 this was the cause of 8% of worker fatalities. This is a decline from 2009 (16%) and the lowest reported number in recent years.

Sources of Information

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