Work Zone Safety Week in the Evansville Area and Throughout Indiana
Last evening as I was driving home on I-164, I witnessed a scene that reminded me that this is National Work Zone Awareness Week in Evansville and throughout Indiana. The scene, located between the Lloyd Expressway and Morgan Ave. on I-164, depicts the number of highway workers killed this past year while performing their duties. It’s purpose is to remind us to slow down and be extra careful in highway work zones.
The Indiana Department of Transportation website provides the following information:
We know highway work zones can be frustrating. We realize life is busy and time is precious. But please understand when you drive dangerously through a highway work zone you’re not just putting the lives of highway workers at risk – you’re risking your own life, and the lives of your passengers. That’s because four out of five people who die in highway work zones are either vehicle drivers or passengers. In 2013, 13 people were killed and more than 300 injured in INDOT work zones. Most work zone crashes are caused by: Following too closely; unsafe lane movement; failure to yield right-of-way; ran off roadway; ran over object in roadway; improper lane change; driver inattention; and speeding too fast.
To ensure your safety and that of its workers, INDOT employees and contractors work nighttime and off-peak hours, install concrete barrier walls on interstate construction projects, communicate construction information to travelers and the media, use electronic message/arrow boards, wear high visibility safety apparel and protective equipment, and use extra police patrols in highway work zones. INDOT even created a work zone awareness video to draw attention to work zone safety.
While driving through a work zone make sure to stay alert and pay attention; speed limits are reduced, lanes may narrow, and workers may be present. Slow down and safely merge as soon as you see the signs; this will allow traffic to flow smoothly. Keep a safe distance on all sides of your vehicles. Minimize distractions and expect construction delays. Allow extra travel time, and if necessary select an alternate route to reach your destination safely.
Work Zone Safety is everyone’s responsibility. Please use caution and common sense when driving through highway work zones.
Indiana’s Work Zone Safety Law
The Indiana Work Zone Safety Law sets steep penalties for driving infractions within highway work zones. First time citations for speeding in a work zone result in a $300 fine. The fine increases to $500 for a second offense and $1,000 for a third offense within three years. Motorists who drive recklessly or aggressively through a work zone face fines up to $5,000. Drivers who injure or kill a highway worker may end up paying a $10,000 fine and serving up to eight years behind bars. Fines generated from the work zone law are used to fund additional work zone patrols in an around work zones.
Work Zone Statistics
- Nationally, four out of five people killed in work zones are drivers and passengers – not highway workers.
- Rear-end crashes are the most common type of work zone crash.
- It takes just one minute more to travel through a two-mile work zone at 45 mph than 65 mph.
- Areas where traffic is entering or leaving work zones are often more dangerous because drivers may be changing lanes and merging.
- Most fatal work zone crashes occur on roads with speed limits greater than 50 mph.
- Fatal work zone crashes occur most often in summer and fall.
Tips for Driving Safely in Work Zones
- Stay Alert and Minimize Distractions: Don’t text, talk or adjust controls.
- Expect the Unexpected: Normal speed limits may be reduced, traffic lanes may be changed, and workers may be nearby.
- Slow Down: Speeding is the major cause of work zone crashes.
- Don’t Tailgate: The most common work zone crash is the rear-end collision.
- Keep a Safe Distance Between Your Vehicle, Highway Workers and their Equipment: Workers and their equipment may be near the road.
- Keep up with Traffic: Maintain traffic flow and posted speeds by merging as soon as possible.
- Pay Attention to Signs: Warning signs help keep you and other drivers safe.
- Obey Road Crew Flaggers: The flagger knows what is best for traffic safety.
- Schedule Enough Time to Drive Safely: Expect delays and leave early.
- Be Patient and Stay Calm: Construction crews are working to improve the road and make your future drive better.