Work zones are a common sight on Virginia roads and highways, but they also pose a significant risk to drivers.
These construction areas, marked by orange cones and signs, increase the likelihood of motor vehicle accidents in different ways.
1. Reduced speed limits
One of the most apparent reasons for increased accident risk in work zones is the reduced speed limits. Drivers often find it frustrating to slow down in these areas, which can lead to aggressive driving behavior. When motorists disregard lower speed limits and continue to travel at higher speeds, the likelihood of rear-end collisions and other accidents rises substantially.
2. Narrowed lanes
Work zones often involve lane closures and narrowed roadways. This forces vehicles to navigate through more confined spaces, leaving less room for error. In such conditions, minor mistakes like drifting slightly from your lane can result in collisions. The reduced width of lanes also makes it challenging for large trucks and passenger vehicles to share the road safely.
3. Inconsistent road surfaces
Construction activities in work zones can cause uneven road surfaces. Sudden changes in pavement quality and texture can be unsettling for drivers, especially at high speeds. These uneven surfaces can lead to loss of control and accidents, such as skidding or spinning out of control.
4. Sudden stops and merging traffic
Work zones frequently require drivers to navigate sudden stops, detours and merging lanes. These abrupt changes in traffic patterns can catch drivers off guard, leading to confusion that results in accidents. The need for quick decision-making in these situations adds another layer of risk.
In 2022, 122,434 traffic crashes happened on Virginia roads, 7,137 of which resulted in serious injuries. To stay safe when driving through work zones, all motorists need to be vigilant and ready for the unexpected.