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

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Luis Ruperto
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Even with less traffic during the pandemic, Texas work zone fatalities increased 9-percent 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.

National Work Zone Awareness Week is April 26–30. Last year, there were more than 22,000 traffic crashes in Texas work zones with 186 people killed, including four road workers.

In the nine-county Lufkin District in 2020, there were 171 traffic crashes in work zones, resulting in 3 fatalities and 17 serious injuries. In Lufkin, there were 11 traffic crashes in work zones, resulting in no fatalities and 1 serious injury. In Nacogdoches, there were 57 traffic crashes in work zones, resulting in no fatalities and 4 serious injuries.

“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, 147 motorists and vehicle passengers were killed 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 safely navigate a work zone:

  1. Slow down. Follow the posted speed limit and drive to conditions. Unsafe speed is one of the main 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.
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