The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) and other agencies are taking concrete steps to address the issue of safety in road construction areas throughout the state, in a bid to protect both drivers and construction workers in work zones.
Last month, TxDOT decided to address issues of safety in a road construction zone on Interstate 10 between Highway 1604 and SH 46 by creating a task force to analyze traffic safety, traffic operations and construction, so they can consider what to do to make traffic safer in and around such road construction.
The Task Force Wants to Make Everyone Safer
The task force will utilize engineers in all departments to look at all the data and advise TxDOT as to potential steps that can be taken to help decrease the number of accidents and increase public safety. They have already made several recommendations. For instance, they looked at and analyzed accident reports and discovered a serious issue with speeding.
As a result, TxDOT plans to add additional barriers, more signage and a uniform speed limit within the construction zone. The hope is that such recommendations will be taken seriously in other parts of Texas, as a way to encourage the public to drive more safely. They are also asking the public to offer their feedback and concerns about driving through the construction corridor, and they would like anyone to share their observations and concern on their social media pages or on their website, www.txdot.gov.
Tips For Driving Safely in Work Zones
While we are still several months from National Work Zone Awareness Week, which will happen April 8-12, 2019 this year, TxDOT is quite concerned about the increased incidences of work zone crashes in the state of Texas. Road work is just a fact of life; on any given day, there can be as many as 2,500 active TxDOT work zones in the state. All work zones require that drivers approach with caution and with no distractions. In 2017, the state of Texas saw 27,148 work zone crashes, resulting in 813 serious injuries and 199 fatalities. This despite the fact that the leading causes of work zone crashes – speeding and driver distraction – are easily and entirely preventable.
Also, while too many TxDOT road workers are killed every year in work zones, the fact of the matter is, about 82 percent of work zone fatalities are the drivers or passengers in the vehicle that caused the accident.
There is no doubt that road work or construction zones can constitute a hazard to both the workers and the people in the vehicles traveling through them. While there are often many signs and barriers and some require occasional lane changes, there are things one can do to make traveling through a work zone safer for everyone. Here are some tips to keep in mind:
- Slow down. For one thing, you have more control over your car when you’re moving slower. For another, fines double in work zones when workers are present, so it can also cost you a lot.
- Put down the phone, put both hands on the wheel and pay close attention to what is going on around you at every moment. Keep in mind, in many cases, workers are operating heavy equipment just several feet from you, so you want to be aware of mistakes they may make, as much as mistakes you could make. Expect the unexpected. While it may seem frustrating to have to be delayed in a construction zone, it’s better than some of the possible alternatives.
- Don’t tailgate; the person in front of you is also trying to avoid mistakes, just as you are. You’ll get there.
- Watch for flaggers and follow their instructions exactly
- Plan ahead. TxDOT and your local government make the location of work zones readily available, so leave a few minutes early if you will encounter one on the way to work.
TxDOT is continuing to increase safety at work zones, so feel free to offer them any information or recommendations you can for making them easier to navigate. They are also trying to remind everyone of the Move Over/Slow Down law. This law is intended to protect TxDOT road workers, law enforcement and first responders. Under the law, all drivers are required to slow down when approaching any vehicle or crew with flashing or amber lights or, if possible, move into the next lane to the left.
It takes all of us working together to make sure everyone on the road makes it to their destination safely and to make sure all road workers make it home to their families at the end of the workday.