Each year, there are hundreds of work zone fatalities around the country. April 23 – 27 is National Work Zone Awareness Week and across the country people are drawing attention to this important safety issue. In Texas in 2010 there were 100 deaths from car crashes in work zone areas.
The state of Texas has come up with a few creative ways of its own to impact drivers’ attitudes. Districts in Lubbock for example will create some “office spaces” by the road including desks, filing cabinets and orange cones. The idea is to remind drivers that when you drive through a work zone, you are essentially driving through someone else’s office. The Lubbock District engineer, Douglas Eichorst put it this way to the media, “The guys you see behind the barrels and cones in hardhats and safety vests have families just like the motorists traveling through the work zone.”
The attitude of the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) is simple: Drive Smart and Arrive Alive. Awareness week is all about reducing the number of fatalities, and while the numbers have slowly declined each successive year, a hundred work zone fatalities is still a hundred to many.
Here are some statistics from the TxDOT about 2010 accidents:
- 61 percent of work zone fatalities were male.
- Forty-five percent of all work zone fatalities were 35 years old or younger.
- Nine out of every ten work zone fatalities are motorists traveling through the work zone.
- One in three work zone crashes is a rear-end collision.
- Of the 100 work zone fatalities, 54 were drug and alcohol-related.
How can we all be safer when traveling through work zones?
First off, slow down when going through work zones. Secondly, try to minimize distractions. The biggest causes of work zone crashes are speeding and failure to remain alert. In 2010 there were 3,073 work zone accidents attributed to distracted driving that involved a total 7,468 vehicles and ended in 14 deaths. There are about 15,000 accidents in work zones every year in the Lone Star state. Let’s see if we can’t bring that number way down for 2012.