AMARILLO — As traffic increases along Texas roadways because of our booming population, fatal crashes are on the rise. In an effort to curb the trend, the Texas Department of Transportation’s Amarillo District was joined today by the city of Amarillo, The Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS), and the Associated General Contractors of Texas (AGC) to ask the public to Be Safe. Drive Smart, in recognition of National Work Zone Awareness Week, April 15-19. TxDOT’s Be Safe. Drive Smart. campaign reminds drivers to slow down, stay alert and observe traffic signs when approaching work zones.
TxDOT manages more than 1,000 highway projects at any given time on 80,000 miles of Texas roads. With warmer weather returning to the Texas panhandle and work volumes increasing so do crashes.
In 2012, there were over 16-thousand crashes in work zones across Texas, and 134 people were killed, most of them motorists and pedestrians. That same year there were 163 crashes in the Amarillo District with four people killed. In 2011, the Amarillo District had five work zone fatalities and 161 crashes
“We take safety very seriously at TxDOT,” said Ron Johnston, TxDOT’s Amarillo District Engineer. “It is our top priority. No work zone is completely safe, but our goal is to reduce the threats to the safety of our workers and motorists as much as possible, and we are asking our law enforcement and contracting partners, and motorists themselves, to help us by doing their part in helping to reduce dangers in work zones.”
More than four out of five fatalities in work zones nationwide are motorists, not highway workers. Speeding and inattention are the most common causes cited. Rear-end collisions account for one in three crashes.
Some of the things motorists can do include:
Slow down and follow posted speed limits. Traffic fines are double in work zones.
Pay attention. Workers are often close to traffic.
Minimize distractions in your vehicle while driving through work zones – no texting, talking on cell phones, eating, etc.
Be patient. Delays can be frustrating, but it only takes a few minutes to slow down in a work zone.
Plan ahead. Leave early to reach your destination.