New signs warn of the dangers of distracted driving

Published: Jun. 12, 2017 at 10:11 AM AKDT
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(App users, to view the interactive data visualization, follow this



Data sourced from the

and the


Check out the interactive data visualization, above, to:

- Examine how many people died - nationwide and statewide - as a result of motor vehicle collisions, in 2015.

- Compare how many people, overall, died in work zone areas, due to vehicle collisions, in 2015.

- Compare how many roadway workers died in work zones, due to vehicle collisions, between 2005 through 2014.


Most of us encounter road construction, sometime during the day. There are about 200 road projects throughout the state, so your odds of seeing it are really high. But with all that work happening, the people who build the roads also face risks.

"It's especially dangerous for our workers in the night," said Jill Reese with the Alaska Department of Transportation. "A lot of that is because there are more drunk drivers on the road. And then also, just because it's at the shoulder season - it's just more difficult to see workers."

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation's Federal Highway Administration, in 2014, there were 669 crash-related deaths in work zones, nationally. Compared to all national roadway fatalities, this equates to 2 percent.

Moreover, U.S. DOT data suggests that both highway and work zone fatalities are on the decline.

Between 2007 and 2014, work zone crashes decreased by 19 percent, while total crashes decreased by 20 percent, nationwide.

Reese said injuries that happen in Alaska are often caused by drivers who are drinking and driving, are distracted by cell phones or are speeding in work zones.

"Whenever you're trying to multi-task and drive through a construction zone - that's just one task too many," she said.

This year, you might also notice large yellow signs asking drivers not to be on their cell phones in work zones. However, these signs do not belong to DOT.

"The cell phone signs are new this year," Reese said. "They actually are not DOT signs. We're allowing them, because they are a safety suggestions."

DOT said the signs were put up by the Quality Asphalt Paving company, which is contracted for many of Anchorage's big road projects. They are allowing the signs, because it encourages safety.