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Safety Tips for Driving Around Work Zones

Work zones can be dangerous settings for drivers. They often have bright floodlights, heavy machinery, workers present, confusing detours, and other hazards and distractions that can lead to car accidents. In the past five years, work zone accidents caused over 200,000 injuries and 4,400 deaths, according to the Federal Highway Administration. Avoid driving through work zones whenever possible. If you must pass through a work zone in Houston, follow a few tips to improve your safety.

Slow Down

Speeding is one of the main causes of fatal work zone accidents. Driving too fast through a work zone can make it impossible to stop on time to avoid a collision with a slow-moving vehicle, barricade or construction worker. Most work zones temporarily reduce speed limits to below what they normally are in the area for greater worker safety. You must follow the posted work zone speed limits until the end of the construction zone. The city often doubles fines for speeding in work zones.

Be Patient

If the city needs to close down one or more lanes to accommodate a work zone, it will generally warn drivers ahead of time with roadside signs. Give yourself extra time if you know you will need to pass through a work zone. Reduce your speed, be patient and let others merge if necessary. Growing impatient, frustrated or angry in slow work zone traffic could lead to road rage or reckless driving. Leaving early can help you prevent getting upset while driving through a work zone.

Increase Following Distance

Most work zone car accidents are rear-end collisions. A work zone can lead to sudden drops in the speeds of surrounding vehicles. If you do not pay attention to changing roadway conditions, you may collide with the back of a vehicle that has reduced its speed in front of you. Keep your eyes on the road and increase your following distance to avoid a rear-end collision. Minimize distractions while passing through a work zone. Avoid looking at your phone, GPS, radio, children in the back seat or things outside.

Read the Signs

Work zones may have signs warning drivers of potential risks. These may include “Road Work Ahead,” “Uneven Shoulder,” “Loose Gravel,” “Merge,” “Flagger Ahead” and “Detour.” Read work zone signs as you drive to know what to expect. Follow any directions a flagger or traffic controller gives you. Be extra careful in unfamiliar or confusing detours. Slow down, take your time and obey work zone area signs to avoid an accident.

Watch for Workers

Although the greatest number of work zone deaths are passenger vehicle drivers, thousands of workers have also lost their lives. Work zones can be dangerous areas for workers, especially when drivers are reckless or negligent. Avoid putting yourself or workers in danger by watching for roadside workers in construction zones. Keep your eyes on the road, not on construction vehicles or bright work zone lights. Assume the work zone is active. Take your foot off the gas pedal and prepare to stop at a moment’s notice to avoid striking a roadside worker.

Expect the Unexpected

Work zones are unpredictable. They can involve potholes, loose rubble, dips in the road, dangerous equipment, detours and other elements drivers usually do not have to deal with. The best way to avoid a work zone crash is to expect the unexpected. Prepare for anything – a worker walking into the road, an abrupt turn, a dead-end or reduced speed limits. Being ready for anything can allow you to react safely and confidently to changes. If you get into a work zone car accident, speak to an attorney about your potential right to file a claim. The city or construction company may owe you compensation for your damages.

Call us today to speak with our Houston construction accident attorneys.