This week (April 4–8) is National Work Zone Awareness Week and with work zone crashes averaging 13 a week, it is a good reminder of the critical need to drive safely when encountering construction. Most people mistakenly may think that the real danger work zones pose is to roadway workers, but nearly 85 percent of fatalities in work zone crashes are those driving or riding in the cars. The good news is these deaths have declined significantly over the past eight years (1,186 fatalities in 2002 to 667 fatalities in 2009), but the ultimate goal is to prevent them altogether.
The AAA Foundation offers the following work zone safety tips for motorists:
· Plan Ahead – Check for planned construction before hitting the road. AAA’s online TripTik® Travel Planner alerts drivers to long-term construction areas, and the free Trip-Tik Mobile app helps drivers navigate a detour (with a passenger’s help of course).
· Slow Down – Speed limits are normally lowered in work zones, and several states double fines for speeding in these areas. Drivers should take these speed limits seriously and allow for extra time to slow down when approaching work zones. It is also key to leave a safe distance between vehicles ahead, as conditions can change quickly.
· Stay Alert – Watch for police officers, fire fighters or road crews giving instructions, as well as for any posted advisories or signage. Keep distractions in the car to a minimum as cones, flashing lights and unusual barriers can pull your attention away from the road. Drivers also should never turn off their vehicles when stopped on the road in work zones unless instructed to by a uniformed worker or the specific length of a delay is known.
Following these simple guidelines along with exercising patience while traveling through these areas will go a long way toward saving the lives of both those who improve our roads and those who travel them.
In honor of this week, the Foundation is also highlighting our Driver-Zed training program during the month of April. Designed for novice drivers, this training program allows users to learn how to safely navigate through different driving scenarios – including through work or construction zones.