75 new Austin drivers a day increasing risk of construction crashes

138 ribbons outside TxDOT representing the workers who lost their lives working in a construction zone in 2015

AUSTIN (KXAN) — As you head out the door leaving for the day, transportation leaders have a message for you and your family: slow down and pay attention.

This is a part of the initiative for Work Zone Safety Awareness in Austin. Road construction workers are going to share their close calls with dangerous drivers in work zones. Rodney Matthews is one of those construction workers.

“All of a sudden I hear a crash and I look up, the next thing I know I’m being thrown into the pavement,” said Matthews. “I don’t know if it was adrenaline or the Grace of God that got me up and off the pavement.” Matthews knows there are many that aren’t as lucky as him.

2015 WORK ZONE FATALITIES:

  • 112 motorists
  • 24 pedestrians/bicyclists
  • 2 workers
  • Total: 138

The theme of this year’s effort is, “Don’t be that driver!” The two main factors in work zone related crashes are speeding and distractions.

The Texas Department of Transportation said more drivers die in work zone crashes than workers do. Four out of five victims of construction crashes are drivers and passengers. Nationally, seven drivers and one construction worker die each work-week, according to the Federal Highway Administration.

The Public Works Department said every day 75 new drivers hit Austin streets, which increases the risk of construction zone accidents. In Texas, during 2015 there were a total of 21,886 crashes in work zones, which is a 13 percent increase since 2014.

“Our crews will be out in full force working to improve Austin’s streets and we’re asking Austin residents to pay attention and slow down when driving through work zones,” said Public Works Department Director Howard Lazarus.

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