Texas Work Zone Deaths Rose 9 Percent in 2017

There were 199 work zone fatalities in Texas during 2017, but just 4 percent of the victims were road crew workers. The other 96 percent were motorists, pedestrians, and bicyclists, according to TxDOT. There were 813 work zone serious injuries recorded in the state during 2017.

The Texas Department of Transportation marked last week's National Work Zone Awareness Week by reminding Texas drivers to stay alert, move over, or slow down and be cautious when driving through work zones. The kicker: Work zone fatalities in Texas increased 9 percent in 2017 from a year earlier, to 199, but just 4 percent of the victims were road crew workers. The other 96 percent were motorists, pedestrians, and bicyclists, according to TxDOT.

There were 813 work zone serious injuries recorded in the state during 2017.

"We always urge drivers to exercise great caution and obey traffic laws, especially in work zones," TxDOT Executive Director James Bass said. "Doing so helps ensure everyone – motorists and work crews – gets home safely to their loved ones."

The agency noted that the state's population continues to boom, and as a result, there may be more than 2,500 active TxDOT work zones in operation at any given time. During 2017, there were 27,148 work zone crashes in Texas, an increase of 5 percent over 2016, and the leading causes of statewide work zone crashes were speeding and driver inattention.

Fines in Texas work zones double when workers are present and can cost the motorist as much as $2,000.

"Roadside crews often work only a few feet from fast-moving traffic," Bass said. "Driver vigilance is paramount to ensuring the safety of everyone in the work zone. We urge anyone driving through a work zone to minimize distractions, give their full attention to the road, and be prepared to slow down or stop on short notice."

TxDOT also reminded drivers of the Move Over/Slow Down law, which requires drivers to move over or slow down when approaching TxDOT crews, law enforcement, emergency vehicles, or tow trucks stopped on the roadside or shoulder with flashing blue or amber lights. Failure to do so can result in fines up to $2,000.

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