Navigating construction can be difficult, not to mention risky for both drivers and workers.

The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) manages more than 1,000 highway projects at any given time on its 80,000 miles of state-maintained roads in Texas. It is estimated that motorists are likely to encounter a TxDOT work zone, on average, every 70-80 miles while driving in the state. In 2012, there were 16,687 crashes in roadway construction and maintenance zones. These crashes resulted in 134 fatalities.TXDOT will join the Federal Highway Administration and other transportation partners this week to observe National Work Zone Awareness Week. The event is designed to remember victims and raise safety awareness for workers and motorists.
Since 1938, there have been 271 workers killed in TxDot work zones.

Here are some facts that may surprise you:
Four out of five fatalities in work zones are motorists-
Speeding and inattention are the most common causes cited.

Rear-end collisions account for one in three crashes
Of the 134 work zone fatalities in Texas in 2012, 49 were drug or alcohol related

·        In 2012, 75 percent of people killed in work zones were male
43% of all people killed in work zones last year were less than 35 years old

TxDOT funds work zone research projects, such as advance warning system studies, to
find ways to improve driving conditions and reduce injuries and fatalities in highway work zones. Work zones have been greatly improved over the years through the use of crashworthy construction drums and signs and barricades designed to reduce both vehicle damage and potential driver injury when hit by a vehicle.  However, the most important factor in making work zones safer is alert, skilled, and knowledgeable drivers.

TxDOT urges motorists to remember the following driving tips to ensure that the minor inconvenience of highway maintenance and construction doesn’t turn into a tragedy.
Slow down and follow posted speed limits.
Traffic fines are double in work zones.

 At 80 mph, a vehicle travels 117 feet per second. Even slowing to 60 mph, a vehicle will cover more than 88 feet per second. Because work zones provide little room for maneuvering and virtually no margin for error, it is critical that drivers observe the posted speed limits and observe all warning signs. If the speed limit sign is white with black numbers, the speed limit has been established by the Texas Transportation Commission and is enforceable regardless of whether there is any construction activity or not. And remember, traffic fines double in work zones when workers are present, even if you cannot see them.

Pay attention. Workers are often close to traffic.

Highway workers and heavy equipment will often be only a few feet from the vehicles passing through the work zone.  Always be alert to changing road and traffic conditions, take note of warning devices and flaggers’ directions, and prepare for the unexpected.  Don’t take driving conditions for granted. Remember that work zone conditions are fluid and can change from day-to-day. Don’t assume that because there wasn’t construction in an area yesterday, there won’t be one there today.

Don’t text and drive.
Driver distraction is a major contributor to work zone crashes.
Be patient.

Delays can be frustrating, but it only takes a few minutes to slow down in a work zone. Aggressive driving makes the situation more dangerous for everyone. Road construction and repair are necessary activities to ensure a safe, efficient highway system and to protect the investment of your tax dollars. It only takes a little extra time to slow down for a work zone. At 50 mph instead of 60 mph, it takes less than one minute longer to get through a work zone two miles long; and less than 4½ minutes longer if the work zone is 10 miles long. The risk of injury or death is not worth the few extra minutes it takes to get through a work zone.

 Plan ahead.

If you know you will encounter a work zone, leave early to reach your destination on time. Normal driving conditions don’t exist in and around highway work zones. Stay alert and be ready to respond quickly. Remember that a trip through a work zone may take longer and can vary from day-to-day.