This week is National Work Zone Awareness Week. I’ve written about it before, but perhaps the most dangerous part of any roadway — for both motorists and for construction workers — is a construction zone. In 2008, 720 workers and motorists were killed in highway work zones nationally and more than 40,000 were injured. Eighty-five percent of those killed in work zones are drivers or passengers.
The numbers are particularly scary for Texans. In 2008, 175 people were killed in highway construction and maintenance zones in Texas. More than four out of every five work zone fatalities are motorists traveling thruogh the work zone. Thirty-four percent of the 2008 work zone fatalities were related to drug or alcohol abuse, and 71 percent of the work zone fatalities were male.
The most important thing motorists can do is pay attention. Fred Underwood, Texas Transportation Commissioner, said, “Speed and inattention are the leading causes of work zone crashes. Each of us has the power to protect and save lives. We just need to put our cell phones down, stop messing with the radio and focus on driving…We can reduce the number of fatalities that occur in work zones.”
More specifically, the National Work Zone Safety Clearinghouse has these driving tips:
- Motorists should know the work zone signs.
- Motorists should obey flaggers and posted speed limits.
- Motorists should pay attention to other drivers.
- Motorists should keep an eye out for workers.
- Motorists should stay focused and avoid distractions.
- Motorists should expeect the unexpected.
- Motorists should keep their cool and be patient.
If you’re in a work zone, please be aware of workers, changes in roadway elevations, and other drivers. These are needless tragedies that can all be prevented.
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