Work zone deaths increase 27 percent on Texas roads

Smart Work Zone system on Interstate 35 (TxDOT Photo)
Smart Work Zone system on Interstate 35 (TxDOT Photo)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — One hundred and eighty-one people lost their lives in work zone crashes last year in Texas, a 27 percent increase from the year before.

Ninety-six percent of those killed were either drivers, pedestrians or bicyclists. “People often think work zone crashes result in the deaths of roadside workers, but statistics show the vast majority of these fatalities are drivers like you and me who are passing through as motorists,” said TxDOT Executive Director James Bass.

With the state’s booming population, the Texas Department of Transportation says the price of progress can mean 2,500 active work zones at any given time in the state.

The Public Works Department said 75 new drivers hit Austin streets every day, which increases the risk of construction zone crashes.

Last year, there were 25,713 work zone crashes, with the leading causes listed as speeding and failing to stay in a single lane. In other words, preventable crashes, TxDOT says.

By law, drivers are required to move over or slow down when approaching work crews, emergency vehicles or tow trucks stopped on the roadside or shoulder with flashing blue or amber lights. Traffic fines in work zones double when workers are present and can cost up to $2,000.

TxDOT says they’re partnering with Austin-based Texas Mutual Insurance Company for their ongoing work zone awareness campaign. 

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