AAA Southern New England and the Rhode Island Department of Transportation (RIDOT) are partnering to illuminate the Rhode Island State House dome orange for the week of April 15-19 in recognition of National Work Zone Awareness Week.

Across the country, about 700 people die each year in work-zone related accidents and more than 40,000 injuries are reported. About 85% of those killed are not the workers on the road, but the driver or occupant of the vehicle causing the crash.

National Work Zone Awareness Week is an annual campaign held at the start of construction season to encourage safe driving through highway construction sites. It is observed across the country by state, local and federal transportation officials in April, the start of highway construction season across most of the country.

"As we enter a new construction season, we encourage drivers to be more aware of roadwork and to be more attentive when encountering a work zone," said RIDOT Director Michael P. Lewis. "For their own safety and that of the men and women working at great risk to keep our roads and bridges in good condition, we remind motorists to go slow through work zones and obey all traffic signs."

RIDOT and AAA offer the following suggestions for motorists as they encounter more construction vehicles and workers in the coming weeks:

Slow down. Speeding is one of the major causes of work zone crashes.

Read the signs. Signage and flashing arrows are used to guide you and other drivers to move safely through the work zone.

Don't engage in distracting activities, especially the use of electronic devices. Talking or texting on a cell phone, checking directions on a GPS unit, or even changing radio stations take a driver's attention away from the road.

Merge as soon as possible. Don't drive right up to the lane closure and then try merging in.

Expect delays. Leave early so you can reach your destination on time.

Be patient and stay calm. Remember that work zones are not set up to inconvenience motorists. They are a necessary part of operations to improve the state's network of roads and bridges.