WORK ZONE FATALITIES ON THE RISE WITH MAJORITY BEING MOTORISTS
LUFKIN – In recognition of National Work Zone Awareness Week, April 9-13, the Texas Department of Transportation reminds drivers that every day requires caution when driving through work zones. In 2017, work zone fatalities in Texas increased 9 percent over the previous year, resulting in 199 deaths and 813 serious injuries. With 4 percent of those fatalities being road crew workers, the remaining 96 percent was comprised of motorists, pedestrians and bicyclists.
“We always urge drivers to exercise great caution and obey traffic laws, especially in work zones,” said TxDOT Executive Director James Bass. “Doing so helps ensure everyone – motorists and work crews – gets home safely to their loved ones.”
As the state’s population continues to boom, the price of progress can mean more than 2,500 active TxDOT work zones at any given time. In 2017, there were 33 work zone crashes in Lufkin, resulting in no fatalities and one serious injury. The leading causes of statewide work zone crashes – speeding and driver inattention – are entirely preventable. 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. Failure to do so can result in fines up to $2,000.
To further help raise awareness about the need for driver responsibility in work zones, TxDOT is partnering with Austin-based Texas Mutual Insurance Company to spread the campaign message around the state. An integral part of Texas Mutual’s mission – helping employers prevent workplace incidents and minimizing their consequences – aligns with TxDOT’s Work Zone Awareness efforts.
For more information, contact Rhonda.Oaks@txdot.gov or (936) 633-4395.