Throughout the state, road construction and maintenance is taking place, creating hazardous work and driving conditions for Hoosiers. I would like to remind motorists making their way around the orange barrels to slow down in work zones. Last year, 14 people were killed and 636 were injured in Indiana work zones. Many of these accidents could have been prevented if drivers paid more attention and obeyed the signs and speed limits.
Nationally, one motorist, passenger or highway worker is killed in a work zone accident every 8.2 hours. That's three people killed each day and more than 100 are injured each day. Most of the crashes are rear end collisions that take place at the beginning or end of a work zone. The two major reasons for work zone crashes are speeding and inattentive drivers. Drivers take a terrible risk when speeding through work zones. There is little room for maneuvering and virtually no margin for driver error. It takes just a minute more to travel through a two-mile work zone at 45 mph than at 65 mph. It is also important to remember to pay particular attention if the caution lights are flashing on work zone signs because workers are present, so you will need to take special precautions. Below, I have included some safety tips from the Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT) for motorists when driving through work zones.
· Stay alert! Look for reduced speed limits, narrow driving lanes and highway workers.
· Pay attention. Work zone signs will tell you exactly what to expect ahead.
· Merge early. If drivers merge as soon as they see the signs, traffic will flow more smoothly.
· Slow down. If you're speeding, you may encounter slow or stopped traffic within seconds.
· Don't tailgate. Maintain a safe distance on all sides of your vehicle.
· Minimize distractions. The three C's - cell phones, CDs and coffee - are the primary causes of driver inattention.
· Plan ahead. Expect delays and allow extra travel time. Select an alternative route if you are running late.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's recent projections indicate that national fatality rates in coming years are very likely to increase. During this past legislative session, the General Assembly passed legislation to try to reduce or prevent the frequency and severity of traffic crashes. INDOT will now post signs to inform drivers of the offenses and penalties related to operating a vehicle in or near highway work zones. If drivers are reminded of the penalties for reckless driving in work zones, they will think twice before speeding through.
For more information on driving safely, I encourage you to check out INDOT's website at www.in.gov/dot. As always, feel free to contact me with any of your questions or concerns. I may be reached by phone at 1-800-382-9841, e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or send letter to 200 W. Washington St. Indianapolis, IN 46204.
Visit us online at www.in.gov/legislative