Highway work zones constitute a major safety concern for government agencies, the legislature, the highway industry, and the traveling public. Despite the efforts made by government agencies and the highway industry, there is little indication that work zone crashes are on the decline nationwide. The main reason behind this is that current safety countermeasures are not working effectively in the work zones. Lack of effective countermeasures may be due to the fact that the characteristics of work zone crashes are not well understood. The primary objective of this research was to investigate the characteristics of fatal crashes and risk factors to these crashes in the work zones so that effective countermeasures could be developed and implemented in the near future. The objective was accomplished using a four-step approach. First, literature review on previous work zone crash studies was conducted to establish a solid understanding on this issue. Second, the research team collected the crash data from the KDOT accident database and the original accident reports. A total of 157 fatal crash cases between 1992 and 2004 were examined. Third, based on the collected data, the researchers systematically examined the work zone fatal crashes using statistical analysis methods such as descriptive analyses and regression analyses. At the end of analyses, the unique crash characteristics and risk factors in the work zones were determined. Finally, improvements on work zone safety were recommended.