It's National Work Zone Awareness Week across America. In Texas, as road construction ramps up across the state, safety officials are asking motorists to slow down and stay alert when driving through the thousands of work zones in Texas to protect themselves and others. Last year, work zone traffic deaths increased substantially in the state.
TxDOT: Work Zone Crash Stats
The Texas Department of Transportation reports there were 26,000 traffic crashes in work zones in 2021, resulting in 244 deaths, a 33 percent increase over the previous year. Another 856 people were seriously injured. The majority of those killed were drivers and passengers. According to TxDOT, 195 motorists or vehicle passengers were killed, along with 38 pedestrians, four bicyclists and three roadside construction workers. TxDOT says speeding and driver inattention were the leading causes of crashes.
“It’s cause for tremendous concern that the number of people killed on our roadways reached a 40-year high last year and fatalities in our workzones rose dramatically,” said TxDOT Executive Director Marc Williams. “It’s important for drivers to remember that driving conditions in work zones can be especially challenging because of extra congestion, slow-moving heavy equipment, temporary barriers and vehicles that make sudden stops. That’s why it’s crucial for everyone to give driving their full attention and drive a safe speed in areas where construction and maintenance are underway.”
With these statistics in mind, TxDOT’s “Be Safe. Drive Smart.” campaign is marking National Work Zone Awareness Week by sharing safety tips to prevent work zone crashes and fatalities:
- Slow down. Follow the posted speed limit and adjust your driving to match road conditions.
- Pay attention. Avoid distractions, keep your mind on the road and put your phone away.
- Watch out for road crews. The only protective gear they wear is reflective clothing, a hardhat, and safety boots. Always follow flaggers’ instructions and be mindful of construction area road signs.
- Don’t tailgate. Give yourself room to stop in a hurry, should you need to. Rear-end collisions are the most common kind of work zone crashes.
- Allow extra time. Road construction can slow things down. Count on it, and plan for it.
Move Over/Slow Down Law
TxDOT also reminds us how important it is to comply with the state's Move Over/Slow Down law that 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. Laws vary by state. Car Pro Show host Jerry Reynolds writes more on this topic in his article Watch Out For Our First Responders.
Failure to slow down can result in costly fines. TxDOT says 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 also can result in a fine up to $2,000.
The “Be Safe. Drive Smart.” initiative is a key part of #EndTheStreakTX, TxDOT's social media and word-of-mouth campaign designed to encourage 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 and the campaign asks all Texans to commit to driving safely to help end the streak of daily deaths.
Photo Credit: F Armstrong Photography/Shutterstock.com.