Road construction is commonplace across much of Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C., but you would be wise to exercise caution when working your way through it. Research shows that, while all other road fatalities have decreased in recent years, the number of fatal crashes occurring in construction zones has climbed.
According to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration, all types of road deaths across the nation decreased by 1.5% between 2016 and 2017. Road deaths in construction zones, however, climbed 3% during this same timeline.
Work zone road deaths
Statistics show that you face the highest risk of a traffic fatality when you navigate a work zone in your vehicle. In 2017, 658 people died in U.S. work zones while driving or riding as a passenger in a car or truck. You also face risks when you work your way through road construction on foot or on your bicycle. In 2017, 136 of the 799 individuals who died in crashes in work zones were either pedestrians or cyclists.
Work zone wreck hazards
Work zones create dangerous conditions due to the fact that they often require drivers to follow unclear routes or unanticipated lane changes. Construction zones also often have obstructions in the roadway that heighten crash risks, such as workers, signage or construction vehicles. Motorists who exercise negligence when navigating these areas further enhance crash risks.
Speed, for example, was a factor in 203 of 2017’s 799 work zone traffic fatalities. Alcohol abuse, too, is a factor in many construction zone car wrecks.
When you are aware that a work zone exists, try to give yourself extra time to work your way around it. When this is not possible, slow your speed and exercise extreme vigilance anytime you come across one.