Driving through a work zone? Here’s what to remember — and why.

After six road workers were killed in a crash on a Maryland highway, a worker states away shares his terrifying experience. (Video: Rich Matthews, Jorge Ribas/The Washington Post)
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Crashes in work zones kill hundreds of people each year, with 774 fatal crashes, 857 deaths and 102,000 total crashes in 2020, according to federal data analyzed by the National Work Zone Safety Information Clearinghouse.

On Wednesday afternoon, six construction workers were killed on a major interstate in Maryland after being hit by a driver who was attempting to change lanes and hit another car, lost control, and moved through a gap in concrete barriers into their work zone.

From 1982 to 2020, work zone crashes killed more than 29,000 people in the United States. Though the average number of annual deaths declined after 2002, it had increased again by 2020, according to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.

“The bottom line is that every work zone, especially on interstates and freeways, is a high-risk dangerous situation for those workers, sometimes working within feet of an active traffic lane,” William J. Horrey, technical director of the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, told The Washington Post. “Really trying to get drivers to respect that and pay attention and slow down and all that stuff is just critical.”

Spring construction and improvements to aging infrastructure can mean more work crews on the roads. Here are top tips for drivers passing work zones.

6 road construction workers killed in Maryland when car crashes into them