On average, over the last 10 years, there have been more than 2,600 work zone related automobile crashes per year. In 2006, 13 people were killed and 1,072 were injured in work zone-related crashes. Surprisingly, national statistics show that in four out of five cases it is the motorist or passengers, not workers, who are injured or killed in these incidents.
At any time, there may be as many as 300 active work zones around the State – more when you consider local public works and utility jobs. These may include large capital projects that require two or three years for completion, or smaller, moving work zones for litter pick-up and pothole repair. Work zones can be identified by the presence of orange diamond-shaped signs that read “Road Work Ahead.” Oftentimes, work zones will be marked by the presence of a truck parked along the shoulder with yellow lights flashing.
Motorists also have an important role to play in reducing work zone-related crashes and saving lives. Remember that taking your eyes off the road for just a second can have disastrous results. Traveling at 65 mph, you will travel 100 feet in just one second! Please stay alert and follow the posted speed limit. The minimum fine for speeding in a work zone is $275 with a penalty of two points on your driver’s license record, and fines could cost up to $1,000.
What can you expect in construction work zones?
Narrow lanes, jersey barrier, barrels, cones shifted lanes and lane markings, extra signs, slow moving trucks, reduced speed limited, stopped traffic, rough or uneven pavement, large cranes, metal plates… NOT ideal driving conditions and all the more reason to be on your most alert!
Here are some suggestions to guide motorists safely through work zones.
- STAY ALERT – Paying attention to what you are doing is the most important part of driving, especially when approaching and driving through construction zones. Answering a phone, changing a CD or radio station, combing your hair or even talking to another passenger can be a deadly distraction.
- PLAN AHEAD – If you are taking a trip, have alternate routes planned and leave extra time to reach your destination. There may be nighttime total road closures that will require you to detour.
- SLOW DOWN – In many instances, work zones have reduced speed limits. Slowing down in work zones is crucial for your safety and the safety of construction workers.
- THINK ORANGE – Orange is the standard color for construction activity. If you see orange when driving, be prepared for possible construction vehicles, dust, lane shifts, uneven or unmarked pavement or even stopped vehicles ahead of you.
- TAKE TIME FOR LIME – Construction workers should wear lime-green vests, they help protect workers by allowing them to stand out from construction equipment.
Work Zone Crashes Statistics
- On average in the last past 10 years, there have been 13 fatalities per year; 1,554 injuries and
- The single major crash type involve rear-end crashes (30 percent.)
- Despite major work occurring at night, most work zone crashes occur during daylight hours (68.5 percent).
- On average, most work zone crashes (more than 10 percent in each of the following jurisdictions) occurred in Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Montgomery and Prince George’s counties, and Baltimore City.
- Not paying attention, going too fast for conditions, failure to yield the right-of-way and following too close were major contributing factors in work zone crashes.