TxDOT: Slow Down in Work Zones!


AUSTIN — The rush of air from passing traffic, the relentless noise, and the intimidating presence of vehicles whizzing by mere feet away can instill a sense of terror in highway workers stationed within work zones.

As Texas grapples with its ever-expanding population, an increasing number of projects are cropping up to tackle congestion and enhance safety on the roads. Yet, amid the flurry of activity, the primary concern remains ensuring the well-being of those toiling in these zones, with the ultimate goal of returning home safely to their families. Surprisingly, it's often the motorists themselves who find themselves in harm's way.

Statistics reveal a grim reality: last year alone, 190 lives were lost in work zones, with a staggering 77% of the fatalities comprising drivers or their passengers. With this stark reality in mind, the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) is rolling out its annual "Be Safe. Drive Smart." campaign during National Work Zone Awareness Week, slated for April 15–19. The initiative aims to furnish motorists with vital safety tips for navigating these construction zones.

"Preserving the integrity and safety of our Texas highway system demands unwavering dedication from our tireless crews," remarked TxDOT Executive Director Marc Williams. "Drivers must anticipate encountering work zones and fluctuating road conditions, exercising caution by adhering to signage and adjusting their speed accordingly."

Following two consecutive years of declines in work zone traffic fatalities, TxDOT is urging Texans to bolster this positive trend by embracing a cautious approach, remaining vigilant, and heeding posted directives while traversing construction or maintenance areas. The "Be Safe. Drive Smart." campaign lays out five fundamental guidelines for negotiating work zones:

  1. Reduce Speed: Adhere to the posted speed limit and refrain from exceeding safe driving speeds for prevailing road conditions, as excessive speed stands as a primary catalyst for work zone accidents.
  2. Stay Focused: Minimize distractions, keep your attention riveted on the road ahead, and stow away electronic devices.
  3. Mindful of Workers: Exercise heightened awareness of roadside crews, recognizing their shared objective of returning home safely. Comply with instructions and heed construction zone signage.
  4. Maintain Safe Following Distances: Given the potential for abrupt slowdowns within work zones, maintain a safe distance between vehicles to mitigate the risk of rear-end collisions.
  5. Factor in Extra Time: Anticipate delays associated with road construction and plan travel accordingly.

Additionally, TxDOT underscores the importance of adhering to Texas' Move Over/Slow Down law, mandating drivers to either vacate the adjacent lane or reduce their speed to at least 20 mph below the prescribed limit when nearing stationary TxDOT, emergency, law enforcement, tow truck, or utility vehicles flashing lights on the roadside.

In a bid to foster awareness of work zone safety and cultivate responsible driving habits, roadway safety professionals are encouraged to don orange attire on April 17, designated as Go Orange Day.

TxDOT's "Be Safe. Drive Smart." campaign forms a cornerstone of #EndTheStreakTX, a broader initiative leveraging social media and grassroots advocacy to prompt drivers to adopt safer behaviors, thereby striving to halt the streak of daily fatalities on Texas roadways. Since November 7, 2000, not a single day has passed without a reported fatality on these roads—a sobering reminder of the imperative for heightened vigilance behind the wheel.

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