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Houston County Courier - Local News
Stories Added - Sunday, April 6, 2008
Copyright 2008 - Polk County Publishing Company


TxDOT observes National Work Zone Awareness Week
Houston County Courier - April 2008

For many motorists, the first word that comes to mind when a highway construction work zone is ahead is “delay,” when the word that should come to mind is “caution.” Work zones can be hazardous places for motorists as well as construction crews working to improve Texas highways.
In observance of the ninth annual National Work Zone Awareness Week, April 7-11, 2008, the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) is joining the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and numerous other state DOT’s and national transportation associations to urge motorists to take extra care when traveling in and around work zones.
TxDOT maintains more than 79,000 miles of highway with more than 1,000 construction or maintenance projects underway at any given time. With so much construction work underway, it is all too common for motorists to encounter work zones.
Over 1,000 motorists are killed and 40,000 are injured in work zone-related crashes across the nation each year. In Texas, approximately 150 people are killed annually in highway construction and maintenance zones.
More than four out of every five work-zone fatalities are motorists traveling through the work zones. Speeding and inattention are the most cited causes of work zone crashes, and one in three work zone crashes is a rear-end collision.
 “We want motorists to be aware of the safety issues that work zones pose to construction workers and the traveling public,” said Carlos Lopez, director of the TxDOT Traffic Operations Division. “Our goal, as always, is to reduce the number of fatalities that occur in work zones and to remind motorists to do their part to help save lives.”
Lopez said everyone should take responsibility for work zone safety, from engineers and planners to drivers and pedestrians. The key to reducing work zone fatalities is as easy as following some simple rules:

  • Observe and comply with work zone warning signs. Speed limits may be reduced, traffic lanes may be altered or reduced in number, and people may be working on or near the roadway.
  • Slow Down. Speeding is one of the major causes of work zone crashes.
  • Don’t Tailgate. Keep a safe distance between you and the car ahead of you.
  • Keep a safe distance from construction workers and their equipment.
  • Obey flaggers. They are the experts in what is best for safely moving traffic through the work zone.
  • Stay alert and minimize distractions. Dedicate your full attention to the roadway. Avoid eating, changing radio stations, or talking on cell phones.
  • Keep up with the traffic flow. Motorists can help maintain traffic flow and posted speeds by obeying speed limit and warning signs and merging as directed.
  • Plan and schedule enough time to drive safely. Check the radio, TV and Websites for traffic information.
  • Be patient and stay calm. Remember that work zones aren’t there to personally inconvenience you. Highway crews are working to improve the road so that your future drive will be better.

For more information about driving safely through work zones, visit our website at http://www.dot.state.tx.us/services/traffic_operations/work_zones.htm, or check out our TxDOT Customer Answer Series Work Zone Brochure at http://www.dot.state.tx.us/publications/traffic.htm.

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