Texas Leads U.S. in Road Construction Work Zone DeathsMay 22, 2014
With thousands of miles of roads and more than 2,500 construction projects going on every day, Texas leads the nation in construction work zone deaths. A report from the Texas Department of Transportation showed that 125 deaths occurred in Texas road construction zones in 2012, an average of a fatality every three days. The report showed that 3.7 percent of all highway fatalities in Texas occurred in work zones, trailing only Utah and Nevada for the percentage of work zone deaths.
Agencies Fighting to Reduce Work Zone Deaths
Local authorities, state troopers and TxDOT are working together to reduce the incidence of work zone deaths on the state’s highways. Law enforcement officials across the state are intensifying their efforts to ensure that drivers comply with a law established to protect Texas Department of Transportation workers. The increased enforcement seeks to alert drivers to the issues of work zone safety and make them mindful that they need to provide road workers with adequate space.
Tragic Work Zone Deaths Lead to Stricter Enforcement
The stronger enforcement of work zone death safety laws came as a result of a tragic accident near El Paso. In the early morning hours of May 11, two construction crew members were working on the Spur 1966 project near Interstate 10. The workers were killed when an allegedly drunk driver reportedly drove through the traffic barricades and ignored the flashing lights. Sheriff’s deputies in the El Paso area have committed to enforcing the laws in place to prevent a repeat of the work zone deaths.
Laws in Place to Prevent Work Zone Deaths
The law calls for drivers to move one lane over when passing emergency vehicles stopped on the side of the road. If heavy traffic does not allow the motorist to move over, the driver must slow down to 20 miles per hour below the posted speed limit. In addition to police vehicles, fire trucks and ambulances, the law also applies to TxDOT and tow-truck workers. Penalties range from a $500 fine to a class B misdemeanor if a driver’s actions lead to a road worker’s injury.
TxDOT to Increase Awareness of Work Zone Deaths
TxDOT Occupational Safety and Health Director Samuel Salazar recently held a press conference regarding the spate of work zone deaths. He mentioned that the agency is working on improving driver awareness of work zone safety. The efforts have borne some fruit, as the the number of road construction work zone deaths dropped to 115 in 2013, with over 3,500 serious injuries.
Sources: EMS World, KENS-TV
Know Your Rights in a Work Zone Death Lawsuit
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