Nevada statistics don't yet show an increase in deaths among highway workers, but complaints of aggressive drivers have been on the rise for the last four or five years.
"These workers are intimidated," said Skip Daly, business manager for Labor Local 169 Union in Reno. "It's been a growing problem, due primarily to road rage.
"The veneer of society is wearing thin. They're impatient, or they don't care. They want everyone to get out of the way and a flagger is just another obstacle to be avoided."
The union supervises about 80 percent of construction flaggers in the Reno-Carson-Douglas area. Daly said interstate and freeway work is the most dangerous due to the speeds, but working in town can be just as bad.
"We recently had a flagger in Carson City working where the road was closed. He told a driver to turn around. The guy said 'f--- you, I'm going,'" Daly said. "As he drove by the flagger, he hit the worker's sign and injured his arm."
Four highway workers have died in the last six years on state highway projects, according to Department of Transportation spokesperson Scott Magruder.
The last Northern Nevada fatality was Tammy Coker, a single mother of three hit by a driver on I-80 about 50 miles east of Reno in 1993. Two other workers were killed on State Route 95 and a fourth in Las Vegas.
According to Magruder, the Department of Transportation follows all federal guidelines for safety including barricades, reducing the speed limit, but drivers often fail to heed the warnings.
"This is definitely dangerous work," he said.
"Workers are exposed to the dangers for longer periods, 12 to14 hours during the peak construction season and that makes it dangerous," Daly said. "But statistically more of the motoring public is killed in construction areas than workers. So it's in their own best interest to slow down."