As North Texas expands and grows, so does the amount of construction along the roads. That means a lot of detours and work zones.
Starting today, the Texas Department of Transportation wants drivers to be more aware of work zones, as they push to crack down on crashes. Last year there were 27,148 work zone crashes in Texas, resulting in 199 deaths and another 813 serious injuries.
According to TxDOT, work zones are hazardous, both for workers and motorists who drive through the complex array of signs, barrels, and lane changes.
Lite and Barricade, a North Texas traffic safety company, designed an alert system to help combat distractions and crashes in and around work zones.
“We created SAWS, which stands for Solar Advance Warning System,” said Shane Howell President of Lite and Barricade.
The company designed traffic signals and signs that are battery powered and that are charged using solar energy. A radar is also placed on top of each sign. When a vehicle approaches the sign, LED lights begin flashing, alerting the driver to stop at the intersection or work zone.
“In North Texas we have a very potent construction market. There’s a super market for construction. There’s a lot of money invested, whether it's public, city, state, county, and there’s a lot of private development," Howell said. "We need to make sure workers and drivers are safe in those work zone areas.”
The leading causes of work zone crashes statewide are speeding and driver inattention. Here are some tips from TxDOT that drivers should keep in mind through work zones:
- Slow down and always follow posted work zone speed limits. Speeding is one of the major causes of work zone crashes. Remember, traffic fines double in work zones when workers are present; fines can cost up to $2,000.
- Pay attention. Workers and heavy equipment may only be a few feet from passing vehicles.
- Don’t tailgate
- Stay alert and minimize distractions such as cell phones.
- Obey road crew flaggers
- Expect the unexpected. Delays from highway construction can be frustrating, but it only takes a few extra minutes to slow down for a work zone.
- Plan ahead. Leave a few minutes early when traveling through a work zone in order to reach your destination on time.