Detours, barricades, orange cones, oh my! Anyone who has passed through Arlington has undoubtedly encountered an area of construction work. The Public Works and Water Services departments work to make necessary improvements to the city’s transportation and water supply infrastructure; however, with this progress comes areas of construction work. While these working areas may be an inconvenience, they play a vital role in transforming The American Dream City.
Each spring, at the start of the construction season, the Federal Highway Administration, the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, and the American Traffic Safety Services Association coordinate and sponsor the National Work Zone Awareness Campaign with the goal of educating drivers on how to save lives by avoiding preventable accidents in work areas. The theme of this year’s campaign, which will take place from April 11-15, is Work zones are a sign of slowing down.
According to the Texas Department of Transportation, in 2021 there were more than 26,000 accidents in Texas work zones, resulting in 244 fatalities. This is a 33% increase from 2021 and a 40-year high. People inside vehicles accounted for most fatal accidents in work areas. 195 drivers and their passengers, 38 pedestrians, four cyclists and three construction workers were killed in Texas last year.
Awareness of work zone safety is essential, both for the men and women who work on our roads and for the drivers who pass through work zones. The tips below are important reminders to make sure you and construction crews get home safely every night:
• Plan ahead: Check the city’s website and social media, mobile traffic apps and radio for the latest traffic information. Depart a few minutes earlier than usual to arrive at your destination on time.
• Be patient: Be patient when moving through a work zone and remember that any delay caused by construction is temporary, even if it seems permanent.
• Slow down: Excess speed in work zones is one of the main causes of accidents in work zones. Obey the posted speed limit for everyone’s safety.
• Avoid distractions: Distracted driving in a work area is a leading cause of work area accidents. Put your phone down and keep your eyes on the road.
• Expect the unexpected: The area you walked through yesterday may look different today. Normal speeds may be reduced, traffic lanes may be moved, and people and vehicles may work on or near the roadway.
• Don’t stray: Rear-end collisions are the most common type of accident in the work area. Leave enough space between you and the car in front of you to react to the unexpected.
• Pay Attention to Warning Signs: Pay attention to information on orange diamond-shaped warning signs that are posted before work areas.
• Use the “Take 10” technique to change lanes: A flashing arrow sign or a “closed lane ahead” sign means you must merge as soon as safely possible. Don’t drive until the lane closes and then cut. Signal your intention to change lanes for at least three seconds, check your mirrors to make sure you can change lanes safely, and use about seven seconds to complete the maneuver.
• Obey traffic crews: A flagman is responsible for controlling traffic in a construction zone and has the same authority as a regulatory traffic sign. Drivers may be summoned for failing to obey the signalman’s instructions.
• Do not accelerate or carry a tailgate: keep a safe distance from the vehicle in front of you and do not accelerate. Tailgating and speeding lead to collisions with other vehicles and field workers.
• Pay attention to workers and equipment: keep a safe distance between your vehicle and traffic barriers, construction workers and construction equipment. The high visibility clothing, hard hats and safety boots worn by road crews are all the protection they have in a man-vs-vehicle incident.
• Obey posted signs until you see one that indicates you have left the work area: Some work areas are mobile and move across the roadway as work progresses. Just because workers aren’t immediately visible after a work zone warning sign doesn’t mean they aren’t there.
In addition to raising awareness of the work area, TxDOT would like to remind drivers of the state’s Moving/Slowing Down law which requires drivers to move into a lane or reduce their speed to 20 mph in below the posted speed limit when approaching a TxDOT, emergency vehicle, police, tow truck, or utility vehicle stopped on the side of the road or shoulder with its flashing lights activated. Violating the law can result in a fine of up to $2,000.
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