Construction work zone awareness week

As spring blooms in Georgia, motorists may note an increase in the amount of highway construction. The projects are designed to improve the highways, adding lanes, improving or replacing antiquated bridges, repaving road surfaces and generally making the driving experience more safe and pleasant.

But before that happens, road construction and work zones mean lane changes, detours, slower speed limits, flagmen and delays. This can irritate many motorists, tempting them to drive too fast and tailgate, as their frustration builds. They may see the signs urging them to give construction workers a "brake," and higher fines for violations in a work zone.

They may assume this means workers are at greater risk to dying in a car accident in a work zone. However, they would be dead wrong. In fact, if they speed in a work zone, they may simply be dead. A recent study shows that four out of five fatalities in highway work zones are motorists.

And speeding is the root cause of more than a third of the fatal work zone accidents. Speed becomes critical, especially when combined with tailgating, as the lanes are often much narrower, with sudden lane shifts, uneven road surfaces, the absence of shoulders and opposing traffic passing within a few feet of a motorist's vehicle.

If a vehicle is following too closely and traveling too fast, they may have little or no time to react. A chain-reaction crash is all but inevitable when traffic suddenly slows or stops.

If you think work zone related delays are bad, imagine the hole in your schedule a multi-vehicle crash, followed by a trip to the emergency room, weeks of therapy and meetings with attorneys and legal proceedings to sort out liability and compensation would create.

Source: Fleet Owner, "Finding ways to reduce highway work zone crashes," Sean Kilcarr, April 8, 2014

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