Working construction jobs on open roads can be a terrifying job. Not only are you exposed to dangerous machinery, hot asphalt, and the elements, but you have to do your job merely feet away from cars travelling at high speeds. Naturally, accidents occurring in and around work zones are far too common – and most often are the fault of drivers who are distracted or speeding. The Department of Transportation in Texas is now issuing a stern warning to all Texas drivers after deaths at roadside work sites jumped sharply in 2017.

The Texas DOT’s reminder comes on the heels of National Work Zone Awareness week, which was April 9-13, 2018. During this week, the Texas DOT has launched a campaign aimed at reminding drivers to be alert and drive an appropriate slower speed while driving through construction sites or work zones. That warning was prompted by a significant spike in deadly crashes occurring in roadside work sites in 2017.

In 2017, work site fatalities in Texas went up nine percent from the previous year. There were a total of there were 27,148 work zone crashes last year resulting in 199 deaths  at work zones and 813 serious injuries, according to data collected by the Texas Department of Transportation. Perhaps surprisingly, only around eighteen percent of those fatalities were road crew workers, meaning the overwhelming majority were drivers, passengers, pedestrians, and bicyclists travelling through work sites.

The Texas Department of Transportation estimates there are more than 2,500 active work zones at any given time in the state. Fines are already doubled in work sites when workers are present, reaching close to $200 in Texas. In order to help drivers and road workers stay safe, the Texas DOT recommends the following driving tips:

  • Slow down in work sites and always follow posted speed limits.
  • Plan ahead. If you know a work zone is ahead, leave early to avoid the urge to speed.
  • Pay attention to workers and heavy equipment which may only be close to the roadway.
  • Never tailgate in a work zone.
  • Minimize distractions such as cell phones and always expect the unexpected.
  • Obey road crew flaggers or traffic signs.