California sees its fair share of construction projects, and while road construction can make an already congested highway even more of a pain, it can also potentially place your life in danger. Unfortunately, road construction is not going away anytime soon, so the more you understand about the risks work zones present, the better.
According to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration, while road fatalities outside of construction zones have decreased nationwide, road fatalities within construction zones are on the rise.
Work zone crash statistics
While 782 people lost their lives in road construction zones during 2016, this number increased to 799 in 2017, marking a 3% uptick in work zone road deaths. Furthermore, drivers and passengers were the most likely to die while navigating their way through the nation’s work zones, though pedestrian and cyclist road deaths also occurred in these areas.
Some work zone road deaths result from drivers struggling to navigate around equipment, signage or vehicles used in the construction, itself, while others occur because motorists are unfamiliar with new traffic patterns and are, therefore, more likely to make errors. Others, yet, result from other motorists making their way through construction zones while also engaging in dangerous driving behaviors, such as drinking and driving or speeding.
Speed is such a common factor in work zone road deaths, in fact, that speed had a hand in 222 of 2017’s 799 work zone road deaths, highlighting just how critical it is for drivers to slow down in these areas. The year prior, speed played a role in 194 of the nation’s construction zone road deaths.
Next time you encounter road construction while driving, do more than just try to find an alternative route – exercise extreme caution while working your way through it. Even if you are the most careful, responsible driver out there, you cannot always count on other motorists effectively following the rules of the road.