TxDOT calls for safer driving as work zone deaths rise
Unsafe speed is one of the main causes of crashes in work zones
Even with less traffic during the pandemic, Texas work zone fatalities increased 9 percent in 2020 compared to 2019. That’s why the Texas Department of Transportation (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, 147 motorists and vehicle passengers were killed in Texas work zones, along with 35 pedestrians and bicyclists and four road workers.
In TxDOT’s 10-county Corpus Christi District in 2020, there were 802 traffic crashes in work zones, resulting in five fatalities and 22 serious injuries. In the city of Corpus Christi in 2020, there were 610 traffic crashes in work zones, resulting in two fatalities and 10 serious injuries.
The Texas Mutual Insurance Co., 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:
- Slow down. Follow the posted speed limit and drive to conditions. Unsafe speed is one of the main causes of crashes in work zones.
- 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 a vest, a hardhat and safety boots. Remember, they want to get home safe, too.
- 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.
- 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 key component of #EndTheStreakTX, 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.
For more information, contact Rickey.Dailey@TxDOT.gov or (361) 808-2544.