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'Be Safe. Drive Smart.': TxDOT urges drivers to be aware of work zones

Posted at 6:10 AM, Apr 08, 2019
and last updated 2019-04-08 11:25:01-04

WACO, TX — Work Zone Safety Awareness week kicks off Monday, April 8. The week is the Texas Department of Transportation's way of refreshing the minds of the traveling public to always be safe and drive smart when going through a work zone.

According to TxDOT, there are about 3,000 work zones on Texas roadways at any given time. So when you have that many work zones, the likelihood of a crash can increase significantly.

Posted signs are always out to warn drivers of an upcoming work zone, along with a slower posted speed limit. But, some drivers don't slow down and others don't pay attention to the work zone at all.

In 2018, there were 25,162 crashes in work zones, resulting in 161 fatalities and another 684 serious injuries, according to TxDOT. The leading causes of these crashes statewide are due to driver attention and speeding.

"The first thing we want everyone to do is reduce your speed, slow down," said Ken Roberts, TxDOT Public Information Officer. "Be aware of the environment a work zone is a different kind of environment."

Construction workers are out risking their lives to improve the roads of Texas, many speed past them and it strikes fear in the workers as they are only a few feet away.

"We have motorists that travel this highway. Speed limit is 60-65 miles per hour and they're usually traveling 75, 80 even 85 miles an hour," said Jesse Sepeda, Area Safety Manager for Primoris Heavy Civil.

Keeping one eye on their work and the other on the road, construction workers have to practice caution while working on roads.

"We have what they call a 5 to 1 ratio for every five seconds that an employee is looking at their work or while they're working," said Brandon Sanders, Waco Safety District Officer. "They're supposed to look back an extra second to see what is coming up behind them at all times."

As the temperature gets warmer and days longer, you'll see more work zones pop up around your regular commute. If you happen to drive by a work zone make sure you are be safe and driving smart.

TxDOT said in 2018, 84 percent of work zone crashes resulted in the motorist or passenger killed. You may see more drive carefully signs as you travel through work zones this week but without the signs reminding us we should always remember to be safe and drive smart while traveling through a work zone.

"Work zone awareness and work zone safety - it's every single day. It's a year long awareness for us and campaign for us," Sepeda said.

Some tips to help you while you're on the road and driving through a work zone: pay attention, don't tailgate, minimize distraction and obey road signs.

TxDOT is holding an I35 public information meeting on April 17th at the Texas Ranger Hall of fame and Museum in the Knox building.

They are also looking for your feedback, TxDOT is asking the ones who travel on I35 through Waco to take a quick survey. They want to hear from you about how you use I35, what information is useful, what isn’t, and what more could be provided to the greater Waco region.

For more information about Work Zone Safety Awareness Week visit the TxDOT website.