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Work Zones: What Drivers Need to Know

Road Work Ahead sign next to barriers with flashers on road with construction with beautiful blue sky and white whispy clouds

There are about 15,000 accidents and over 100 people killed each year in highway construction and maintenance zones around Texas. Work zones are dangerous for both drivers and the workers.

Here are 3 things you need to know when driving through work zones.

Obey the Signs

In order to be considered a work zone, two things must apply:

  • There must be signs present, warning drivers of an upcoming work zone
  • Workers must be present

The two main causes for work zone accidents are speeding and distracted driving. When you see signs for an upcoming work zone, slow down. Generally, the speed limit is lowered in work zones, so look for any signs posting a different speed limit.

The Texas Department of Transportation maintains a website showing current road conditions for drivers. Including road closures and construction zones, the site offers many helpful features:

  • Shows you any delays you may experience on your route
  • Helps you plan a different way to avoid work zones
  • Provides future planned road closures/construction
  • Shows real-time traffic

Don’t Drive Distracted

Many cities across Texas have banned cellphone use in efforts to reduce car accidents caused by texting-and-driving. However, there are many other distractions that can put you and roadside workers at risk.

From changing the radio to deep thinking about something other than driving, anything that takes your focus off the road is distracted driving.

Here are some shocking statistics about distracted driving:

  • It takes a minimum of 5 seconds to glance at a text message while driving. Driving 55 mph, you would drive the length of a football field without looking at the road
  • Drivers talking on a cell phone can miss seeing up to 50% of their surroundings
  • More than 100,000 car accidents in Texas each year involve distracted driving

The National Safety Council reports that a study found that the activity in the area of the brain that processes moving images decreased up to ⅓ when drivers were listening to someone talk on the phone. Distracted driving encompasses anything that takes your total attention away from the road.

Road construction worker in yellow hardhat and orange vest stopping traffic next to road work with bulldozers and orange barricades

Most road work puts workers very close to vehicles moving at fast speeds. The faster you drive, the less amount of time you have to react and stop. If you’re trying to multi-task, you have even less time to react.

To protect yourself and workers on the road, stay focused only on driving when behind the wheel.

Traffic Violation Fines Double

As discussed earlier, an official “work zone” must have signs warning drivers of the work zone and workers must be present. The fines for all moving vehicle traffic violations, including speeding, are doubled if you’re caught in violation within a work zone.

Fines can reach up to $400 in work zones when workers are present, along with any added court costs.

Road work and construction can be frustrating when traffic slows. However, it’s important for drivers to remain focused and drive more slowly through work zones to protect those working to maintain and improve the roads.

Road construction workers in orange vests using tools to smooth tar pouring from machine to put down new road


If you’ve been injured in a car accident, contact the Colley & Colley law firm in Tyler, Texas for a free consultation. We’re dedicated to providing you with the best legal counsel in East Texas.