According to Washington, D.C.-based Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), an average of three deaths and 160 injuries occur in U.S. highway construction work zones per day. Ironically, nearly 80% of all fatalities in work zone crashes are the occupants of motor vehicles; however, one out of five workers is still vulnerable.

To decrease the likelihood of worker casualties, beginning November 24, the FHWA will require all workers within the right-of-way of a federal aid highway exposed to traffic or construction equipment to wear high-visibility safety apparel meeting Washington, D.C.-based American National Standards Institute (ANSI) Performance Class Two or Three guidelines.

“Sadly, there are far too many people getting hit because drivers often aren't paying attention,” says a spokesperson from the FHWA Office of Public Affairs. “In a perfect world, a driver would see pedestrians wandering around the road or the big equipment, but to ensure maximum visibility they really do need to wear the fluorescent gear so that motorists have no reason to say they didn't see somebody. We think this is entirely preventable.”

The new regulation is part of the Manual of Uniform Traffic Controlled Devices (MUTCD). As such, it will be enforced in the same way as other MUTCD regulations, under individual states' departments of transportation (DOT) through highway patrol units. Severe cases of non-compliance could lead to a state losing billions of dollars in federal highway funding.