AUSTIN (KXAN) — The Texas Department of Transportation is asking drivers to slow down, especially as they approach construction work zones. That is the purpose of a new campaign launching Wednesday.
In December, MoPac construction workers witnessed a close call between one of their crews and a drunk driver. Police confirmed a drunk driver was going the wrong way up the highway. He slammed into equipment, narrowly missing the crew.
Now, the transportation agency is launching a statewide push to get its message out. It’s called “Humans at Work” and it will put a human face to those affected by work zone crashes by featuring employees sharing their work zone stories. TxDOT said it focuses on the safety of drivers, not only construction workers. More than 90 percent of work zone accidents last year ended with the driver being injured, said TxDOT spokeswoman Kelli Reyna.
“They have a dangerous job working on the side of the roadway,” Reyna said. “But, just as importantly, you could have a dangerous commute if you’re not paying attention or slowing down.”
In 2016, TxDOT tracked:
- More than 25,000 crashes in work zones statewide
- Nearly 180 deaths in construction work sites in Texas
- At least 750 people injured across the state
Seven of those deaths were construction workers. But, it is the drivers who are most at risk, said Reyna.
“The statistics show that the majority of these crashes are motorists,” she said.
The state has a law against speeding, distracted or drunk drivers near roadway construction workers, she said. In 2013, state lawmakers passed a bill requiring drivers to move over or slow down 20 miles below the speed limit as they approach work zones.
Reyna said as the Austin area continues to see more growth, which leads to more roadway construction, TxDOT fears it will see more construction site accidents. And, highway workers are eager to get the message out to slow down or move over.
“The crews that are working behind those barriers are somebody’s mother, somebody’s father, brother, sister, friend,” Reyna said. “And, we all have to do our part to make sure they get home safely.”
Last year in the Austin District, there were 1,485 crashes in work zones, resulting in seven fatalities and 69 serious injuries.
Gigi Barnett is taking a look at the new effort to keep everyone safe on the roads on KXAN News Today on the CW Austin.