March 23 – 27, 2015 marks National Work Zone Awareness Week. As a personal injury attorney, I know firsthand how devastating work zone accidents can be. Safe driving habits in highway work zones protect not only Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) workers, but also help ensure the safety of everyone on the roadways. The theme of this year’s Awareness Week is “Expect the Unexpected.”  The goal of the spring campaign is to encourage drivers to use extra caution in highway work zones.
Work zone accidents often happen when drivers do not have their full attention on the road. This short video shows a VDOT employee narrowly misses getting hit by an SUV in a work zone. Unfortunately not all work zone accidents are near misses. In this video, Trooper Troy Smith describes his very own encounter with a work zone collision.
Using extra caution and following a few simple rules when driving in a work zone can help save lives:
- Expect the unexpected and keep an eye out for workers, their equipment, and other drivers.
- Dedicate your full attention to the road and those traveling around you. Avoid distracting activities when driving such as using cell phones, changing radio stations, eating or engaging in any activity that takes your eyes off the roadway.
- Pay close attention to signs, work zone flaggers, and orange cones, which are there to protect your life and the lives of the workers.
- Turn on your headlights when driving in a work zone so that workers and other motorists can see you.
- Unexpected stops frequently occur in work zones so leave safe following distances and do not tailgate.
- Adhere to the speed limits in and around the work zone.
- Keep up with traffic flow.
- Don’t change lanes.
- Practice patience. Remember, the work zone crewmembers are working to improve the road for future travels. 
There are also legal consequences for ignoring a posted work zone. The top five offenses charged to motorists in Virginia in work zones include following too closely, reckless driving, improper lane change, failure to yield right of way and failure to maintain control.
The number of work zone fatalities between 2002 and 2008 decreased 39% so Work Zone Awareness Week is having a positive impact. I encourage you to heed this reminder to expect the unexpected in a work zone environment and drive safely – it can save lives. More information can be found on the VDOT Work Zone Safety Awareness Page.
About the Author: Christopher Guedri is a trial attorney with the personal injury law firm of Allen & Allen in Richmond, VA. Guedri was named “Lawyer of the Year” by Best Lawyers in America for 2014-2015 in the Personal Injury Litigation – Plaintiffs category in Richmond, VA. He is a Fellow for the prestigious International Academy of Trial Lawyers and has an AV rating from Martindale Hubble. Additionally, Chris Guedri has been listed in the “Legal Elite” by Virginia Business Magazine and as a “Virginia Super Lawyer” by Richmond Magazine.
 American Traffic Safety Services Association, National Work Zone Awareness Week, http://www.atssa.com/Events/NationalWorkZoneAwarenessWeek.aspx
 VDOT, While Driving in a Work Zone, (Oct. 14, 2012), http://www.virginiadot.org/programs/work_zone_safety/during.asp