Open House, Giant T-Rex and Driving Tips Highlight National Work Zone Awareness Week

Contact: Jennifer Wright

Phone: (915) 790-4340

Date: April 4, 2019

161 people died in work zone traffic crashes in 2018 

In recognition of National Work Zone Awareness Week, which runs April 8–12, TxDOT is reminding motorists to stay alert and slow down when driving through work zones.

“Work zones present a different environment for drivers to navigate,” said TxDOT El Paso District Engineer Bob Bielek. “Drivers are likely to encounter concrete barriers, slow-moving heavy equipment, and vehicles that make sudden stops. Flaggers and temporary signage may also be present to direct traffic through a work zone.”

In 2018, Texas saw 25,162 work zone traffic crashes, resulting in 161 fatalities and 684 serious injuries. Of those fatalities, 135 were motorists and/or their passengers. In the El Paso District last year, there were 1, 278 crashes in work zones, resulting in 3 fatalities and 15 serious injuries.

“While TxDOT prioritizes safety for all of its roadside crews, motorists ultimately have the power and responsibility to keep everyone safe by slowing down and paying attention when driving through work zones,” reminded Bielek. Although fatalities in Texas work zones decreased last year, traffic crashes in these areas still claimed the lives of 161 people. The majority of those killed (84 percent) were motorists and/or their passengers.”

Drivers are encouraged to:

  • Slow down and always follow posted work zone speed limits. Traffic fines double in work zones when workers are present.
  • Pay attention, as workers and heavy equipment may only be a few feet away from passing vehicles.
  • Not tailgate.
  • Stay alert, minimize distractions and put the phone away.
  • Obey road crew flaggers.
  • Plan ahead to avoid delays.

TxDOT districts around the state conduct events in observance of National Work Zone Awareness Week. In the El Paso District, which covers Brewster, Culberson, El Paso, Hudspeth, Jeff Davis and Presidio counties, an open house is scheduled for Thursday, April 11, 10 a.m. - 1 p.m. at 4201 Hondo Pass in El Paso. Additional activities throughout the district include the debut of Safe “T” Rex in Fort Davis this week. The giant orange barrel dinosaur is along the roadway to promote work zone safety and remind drivers to not text and drive. During work zone awareness week, it will be in Alpine. The creature is the second created by TxDOT staff from recycled construction barrels. Work Zone Willy debuted last year.

As part of its ongoing work zone awareness efforts, TxDOT also reminds drivers of the Move Over/Slow Down law, which requires drivers to move over a lane or reduce their speed to 20 mph below the posted limit when they see flashing blue or amber lights on a TxDOT vehicle, emergency vehicle or tow truck stopped on the roadside. Not doing so can result in a fine of up to $2,000.

More about the week:

National Work Zone Awareness Week is an initiative that began in 1999 and is conducted each spring by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) and the American Traffic Safety Services Association (ATSSA), to bring awareness to work zone safety issues. The campaign focuses on offering safety tips for drivers to help them to be safe and drive smart in work zones.

The information contained in this report represents data collected from the Texas Peace Officer's Crash Report (CR-3). This information was received and processed by the department as of Feb. 28, 2019.


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