NORTH TEXAS (CBSDFW.COM) – National Work Zone Awareness Week kicks off today. Transportation officials say with the summer driving season coming up safety needs to be on everyone’s mind.
North Texas highways are packed with drivers and the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) is calling on people behind the wheel to pay attention, especially since there are more and more work zones across the state.READ MORE: Officials: 2 Missing Texas Kids Found Alive After Being Kidnapped By Registered Sex Offender
“We can have anywhere close to 3,000 work zones and with 80,000 workers in those zones, so a lot of work zones are going on in Texas. We are doing a lot of construction,” said TxDOT public information officer Val Lopez.
In fact, TxDOT calls this a golden age of highway construction, but all those work zones mean drivers need to focus. The department is hoping their “Be Safe. Drive Smart.” campaign will save lives.
“A fact that really is not well known is that something like 85-percent of the fatalities that occur in work zones are not construction workers,” Lopez explained. “They’re actually drivers going through there that get killed in the accidents that usually they cause.”READ MORE: Small Business Owners Excited As Visitors Return, Pack The State Fair Of Texas
Last year in Texas, there were more than 25,000 crashes in work zones, with 161 people killed and 684 others seriously hurt.
The two biggest causes of accidents in works zones — inattention and speeding.
“We’re asking that they [drivers] follow the speed limit signs [because] often we reduce the speeds through those zones. We’re asking that they put distractions away,” Lopez said. “Put that cell phone away, because distractions and speeding are the main causes of accident in the work zones.”
Officials with TxDOT say they’re being aggressive about trying to finish road projects, but that means configurations can change. Therefore drivers shouldn’t take for granted that they know when and where lane changes will happen.MORE NEWS: SMU Beats TCU 42-34 In 100th Meeting Of The Dallas-Area Rivals
Bottom line – put the cell phone down and keep your eyes on the road.