If you drive around Oklahoma, particularly in and around the Oklahoma City Metro area, you have seen firsthand how road construction mucks up the flow of traffic. Construction zones (also called work zones or construction work zones) can be dangerous for both construction workers and motorists. According to the National Work Zone Safety Information Clearinghouse, over two people per day are killed in work zone crashes. In the past five years, here in Oklahoma, 91 people, including one ODOT worker, were killed and 1,294 people were injured in more than 7,125 collisions in Oklahoma construction work zones. But why are construction zones so dangerous? Here are 4 reasons we have identified: distracted driving, speeding, inattention to road safety signs, and road rage.
Distracted and inattentive drivers cause many work zone collisions. This is incredibly dangerous, even on roads with no construction activity. Drivers who text or talk on the phone or adjust their GPS while driving can increase the risk of a collision. In Oklahoma, texting while driving is banned with the exemption of integrated voice-operated systems.
Speeding is the leading cause of fatalities in work zone crashes. Since Oklahoma requires drivers to adjust speeds to road conditions, the state also takes speeding in work zones seriously, with severe penalties for your license and insurance. If you are found speeding in a construction zone, you may receive additional points on your license. Additionally, Oklahoma allows insurance companies to charge you extra for points on your license because of the increased risk of auto accidents.
Inattention to Road Safety Signs
To protect the safety of both workers and drivers, road construction work requires detours and reduced speeds. Traffic rerouting is announced with signs showing “Work Zone Begins” and “End Road Work” signs as well as” Begin Work Convoy” and “End Work Convoy”. Bright orange barriers and flashing lights can also be placed around the zone. However, even when signs are posted, construction zone accidents still happen. Most construction zone accidents occur around closed lanes, construction on the shoulder/median and lane shifts/crossings.
As we mentioned in a past article, road rage has been on the rise since 2020. Road rage typically involves some erratic and aggressive driving behaviors. And while road rage can cause accidents regardless of construction zones being about, the other aspects about driving in construction zones can be a perfect storm situation for increasing frustration for drivers, possibly resulting (or escalating) road rage.
Before you go on the road, you can check Oklahoma’s Department of Transportation for ongoing construction zones so you can plan your route. When you cannot avoid a road construction zone, you can follow these tips to help you stay safe:
- Be aware of your surroundings.
- Obey any posted signs in road construction zones.
- Slow down and be mindful of construction workers.
- Be mindful of your distance from the vehicle in front of you.
- Move into the next open lane quickly.
- Use headlights when necessary.
- Don’t use any cell phones while driving.
Unfortunately, no matter how much care you take to avoid an accident, especially when it is a construction work zone, sometimes accidents just cannot be avoided. In such instances, know that OKC Auto Works is here for you. (405) 634-8200