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Work Zone Traffic Deaths Rise

TxDOT CALLS FOR SAFER DRIVING AS WORK ZONE TRAFFIC DEATHS RISE DURING PANDEMIC.

Unsafe speed is one of the leading causes of crashes in work zones.

AUSTIN – Even with less traffic during the pandemic, Texas work zone fatalities increased 9% in 2020 compared to 2019. That’s why TxDOT is calling on drivers to make safety their number one priority at all times and especially when passing through active construction and maintenance work zones on the roadway.

TxDOT’s “Be Safe. Drive Smart.” campaign is marking National Work Zone Awareness Week, April 26–30, with safety tips to reduce work zone fatalities. Last year, there were more than 22,000 traffic crashes in Texas work zones, with 186 people killed, including four road workers.

“We know driving through work zones can be challenging,” said TxDOT Executive Director James Bass. “There can be extra congestion, slow-moving heavy equipment, temporary barriers, and vehicles that make sudden stops. We can’t stress enough how important it is to give driving your full attention and slow down—for your own safety and that of the people who work alongside the road.”

Drivers and their passengers account for the majority of those who have died in work zone crashes. In 2020, accidents killed 147 motorists and vehicle passengers in Texas work zones, along with 35 pedestrians and bicyclists and four road workers.

The Texas Mutual Insurance Company, which helps employers prevent workplace incidents and their consequences, is partnering with TxDOT to promote safe driving. The “Be Safe. Drive Smart.” campaign outlines five key steps drivers can take to navigate a work zone safely:

     

1. Slow down. Follow the posted speed limit and drive to conditions. Unsafe speed is one of the leading causes of crashes in work zones.

2. Pay attention. Avoid distractions, keep your mind on the road and put your phone away.

3.  Watch out for road crews. The only protective gear they wear is a vest, a hardhat, and safety boots. Remember, they want to get home safe, too.

4.  Don’t tailgate. Give yourself room to stop in a hurry if you need to. Rear-end collisions are the most common kind of work zone crashes.

5.  Allow extra time. Road construction can slow things down. Count on it, and plan for it.

 

Traffic fines double in work zones when workers are present and can cost up to $2,000. Failure to heed the Move Over/Slow Down law can also result in a $2,000 fine. State law requires drivers to move over a lane or reduce their speed to 20 mph below the posted speed limit when approaching a TxDOT vehicle, emergency vehicle, law enforcement, tow truck, or utility vehicle stopped with flashing lights activated on the roadside.

“Be Safe. Drive Smart” is a critical component of #EndTheStreakTX. It is a broader social media and word-of-mouth effort that encourages drivers to make safer choices while behind the wheel, such as wearing a seat belt, driving the speed limit, never texting and driving, and never driving under the influence of alcohol or other drugs. Nov. 7, 2000, was the last deathless day on Texas roadways. #EndTheStreakTX asks all Texans to commit to driving safely to help end the streak of daily deaths.