Distracted driving and speeding are the leading causes of accidents in highway construction zones
We see them a lot on Interstate 10 and other major roadways throughout greater El Paso: roadside construction zones. They usually operate at night or during the middle of the day, in order to avoid the morning and evening rush hour commutes.
As construction crews set up, road closures are common, but some motorists don't drive responsibly when approaching roadside construction zones. The two leading causes of highway construction zone crashes include:
- Driver inattention — using handheld devices, eating, drinking, programming navigation, or multitasking
- Speeding — exceeding the posted highway speed limit or failing to acknowledge construction zone signs
The facts and figures of Texas roadside construction zone crashes
According to the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT), here are the facts and figures regarding highway construction zone crashes in Texas:
- There are 15,000 crashes in highway construction zones across Texas each year.
- As a result, there are more than 100 yearly fatalities — four out of five are motorists.
- Distracted driving results in 3,000 crashes and 14 fatalities in roadside construction zones.
In a video released by the TxDOT, Jerral Wyer, TxDOT Occupational Safety Division Director, reflects on a fatal incident involving a friend he had known since high school. He was killed by a distracted driver who pulled into his lane and collided with him head-on. In addition, Wyer cites 11 TxDOT teammates and roadside construction workers who were also killed by distracted drivers.
Texas drivers have a responsibility to pay attention to highway construction zones and be prepared to slow down. The TxDOT video explains why --
"If you were not expecting to drive through a work zone today, consider this: road building in Texas is year-round and the Texas Department of Transportation maintains about 200,000 lane miles of roadway. Over 1,000 projects are underway at any time."
Safety tips for better navigating highway construction zones
TxDOT says that when approaching construction zones, drivers should pay attention to:
- Entrance signs — these are usually orange signs that alert drivers that they are about to enter a construction zone.
- Posted speed limit changes — speed limits are always reduced in roadside construction zones. If the posted speed limit on an interstate is 70 mph, be prepared to slow down to 45 mph or 50 mph.
- Roadway changes — driving through a construction zone isn't the same as driving through a regular stretch of highway. Drivers may encounter lane closures, detours, cones and barrels, and workers or police officers directing traffic.
In addition, TxDOT offers these tips for preventing construction zone crashes:
- Keep a four-second (or greater) distance between you and the vehicle in front of you.
- Look ahead at a travel distance of at least 15 seconds.
- Be aware of visibility challenges at night.
- Stay attentive and avoid using handheld devices — "Silence the Cell. Text Later."
- Avoid other distracting behaviors, like multitasking, programming a GPS, or daydreaming.
Attention: Work zone ahead
"If you allow yourself to be distracted while driving through that work zone and answer that cellphone, that may be all it takes to cross the barrel and unfortunately strike a worker who's standing on the other side of that barrel — working for you to try to create a safe highway system," said Wyer.
According to Distraction.gov, drivers who text behind the wheel are 23 times more likely to cause a crash. When sending a text, drivers take their eyes off the road for about 4.6 seconds, which at 55 mph, is likened to driving the distance of a football field while blindfolded.
If you were injured in a construction zone crash because another driver was distracted or speeding, don't hesitate to speak to an experienced El Paso car accident attorney. The legal team at Michael J. Gopin, PLLC can legally advocate on your behalf and help you maximize your compensation. To learn more, contact us online today.