NORTH TEXAS (CBSDFW.COM) – The warnings to slow down while driving through work zones have never been more important in Texas. The point is being stressed as new statistics show deaths and injuries while driving through construction areas are up.

Until you stand on a roadway with cars, trucks and 18-wheelers whizzing by, you don’t appreciate the speed of passing traffic and the danger that work crews face everyday.

Officials with the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) and the North Texas Tollway Authority (NTTA) delivered the safety message today, in Plano and Irving, in an effort to reduce the increasing number of work zone deaths.

Santiago Peralta is an advocate for work zone awareness — that’s because he oversees road crews that shutdown lanes while vehicles constantly flying by.

The 30-year-old Dallas father shared a close call while pleading for the public to help make his job safer. “Actually one day, when we were in a work zone, we had one [driver] run into the back of a truck and a soon as he got out of his vehicle he told us that he was distracted on his cell phone,” he recalled.

Officials showed crushed protective barrels as symbols of the constant risks to work crews. Four out of five of those deaths are motorists who either don’t slow down in work zones or become distracted by a cell phone.

Last year in Texas, work zone crashes increased 5 percent, resulting in a 9-percent increase in fatalities over 2016. In 2017 in the Dallas/Fort Worth area, there were more than 3,000 crashes in work zones, resulting in 10 fatalities and nearly 80 serious injuries.