Work zones in Florida can be found everywhere, and every driver has to navigate their share of them. Signs alerting motorists to them are often accompanied by groans and sighs as drivers try to come to grips with what is sure to be a delay. What they should be sighing over is the rate of accidents that occur in these zones.
While many focus on the danger to road crews in a highway work zone, it is actually those behind the wheel who are most at risk, according to the Florida Department of Transportation. Nationwide, some 40,000 people are hurt in crashes that occur in work zones as drivers thread their way through a confusing course that includes cones, signs and lane changes. In Florida, an astounding 99 percent of these crashes result in injury to drivers and passengers.
Based on data from 2014, the U.S. Dept. of Transportation notes a total of 669 fatalities in work zones across the nation. They were more frequent in warm-weather months, which is due to the fact that many states must suspend road work during colder months. It is also interesting to note that they occurred most often on weekdays, Tuesday, Wednesdays and Thursdays, and during the daytime. This is not surprising when you consider weekday traffic to and from work is typically the times when more vehicles are on the road. Additional factors in fatal work-zone crashes include:
- Speeding in 28 percent of crashes
- Alcohol in 25 percent
- Lack of seatbelts in 25 percent
While city traffic accounts for only five percent of the mileage traveled in the U.S., urban freeways and high-traffic arterial roads saw 43 percent of the total of fatal work-zone accidents. A high percentage of work-zone crashes are rear-end collisions.
Drivers in work zones need to be especially alert in these areas and eliminate all distractions. Driving slower, obeying flaggers and watching for informational signs can help you avoid becoming part of an accident statistic.