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TXA&M Photo: Texas A&M

Roadway work zone crashes a growing issue in Texas

Lone Star state says motorists comprise the majority of work zone fatalities.

The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) is highlighting the rise of deadly work zone crashes within the Lone Star state as work zone fatalities increased 9% in 2017 versus 2016, resulting in 199 deaths and 813 serious injuries. Only 4% of those fatalities are comprised of road crew workers, TxDOT noted, with the remaining 96% comprised of motorists, pedestrians and bicyclists.

“We always urge drivers to exercise great caution and obey traffic laws, especially in work zones,” noted TxDOT Executive Director James Bass in a statement. “Doing so helps ensure everyone – motorists and work crews – gets home safely to their loved ones.”

As the Lone Star state’s population continues to boom, the price of progress can mean more than 2,500 active TxDOT work zones at any given time, he added. In 2017, there were 27,148 work zone crashes in Texas, an increase of 5% over 2016. The leading causes of statewide work zone crashes – speeding and driver inattention – are, in TxDOT’s estimation, “entirely preventable.” The agency added that fines in work zones double when workers are present and can cost up to $2,000.

“Roadside crews often work only a few feet from fast-moving traffic,” Bass said. “Driver vigilance is paramount to ensuring the safety of everyone in the work zone. We urge anyone driving through a work zone to minimize distractions, give their full attention to the road and be prepared to slow down or stop on short notice.”

As part of its ongoing Work Zone Awareness campaign, TxDOT also reminds drivers of the “Move Over/Slow Down” law, which requires drivers to move over or slow down when approaching TxDOT crews, law enforcement, emergency vehicles or tow trucks stopped on the roadside or shoulder with flashing blue or amber lights. And again, fines for failing to heed that law can result in fines up to $2,000.

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