With more than 7 million people in the metropolitan area, Dallas-Fort Worth is the fourth largest metropolitan area in the United States. And, with that many people, come cars, buses and trucks and traffic. While the area ranks 151st in the world for traffic congestion, TomTom.com estimates that residents in the metropolitan area need 18 percent more travel time than in the average city, a one-percent increase from last year, for their daily commute. They also estimate that drivers in the area need an extra 24 minutes per day, or 93 hours per year, to get where they are going.
Texas Work Zones add to Danger
In an attempt to streamline and ease the congestion, infrastructure updates and new construction throughout the area often cause additional and unexpected slow-downs and congestion. Keep It Moving Dallas, a website run by the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT), lists hundreds of road projects for the Dallas area. It includes hearings and proposals for future projects, as well as projects currently ongoing and projects recently completed. Although the goal ultimately is to make traffic flow more smoothly and efficiently, while the work is being done it often does the opposite. And with the uncertainty of lane-changes and detours, these projects also increase the hazards to an area congested with vehicles.
Texas and National Statistics
The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), a part of the U.S. Department of Transportation, reports that in the last five years there have been more than 4,500 fatalities in work zone crashes, the majority of which were drivers and passengers; more than 200,000 people were injured. TxDOT reports that in 2016 in Texas alone, there were 25,713 crashes in work zones, resulting in 181 deaths – a 27 percent increase over 2015.
Safety First in Texas
TxDot reports that there are more than 2,500 active road construction work zones in Texas, a huge number of which are in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metropolitan Area. As part of safety awareness, work zones are identified by signage and often have humans directing traffic through specific spots that are potentially dangerous or have lane closures. These mitigate the danger to drivers who are unaware of the work being done or who may find the construction zone itself confusing. However, TxDOT suggests that the two most common causes of accidents in work zones are excessive speed and not staying in a lane. They offer several tips to stay safe while traveling through a work zone:
- Always follow posted speed limits. Fines for many traffic violations, including speeding, double in work zones because of the dangers to the workers and the drivers, and may cost up to $2,000 or more.
- Carefully watch your surroundings, and pay close attention to the road. The areas in which workers have to move is sometimes limited, so workers and heavy machinery may be close to the roadway, leaving little room for error.
- Leave plenty of room between your vehicle and the one in front of you. Because of the nature of the work, sudden stops are sometimes necessary in work zones, and as a result driving too close can lead to collisions and potentially injuries.
- Don’t drive distracted – put the cell phone down. While distracted driving is dangerous at any time, it is especially so in a work zone, where conditions may change rapidly.
- Watch for flaggers; they are there for a reason.
- If you know you will be traveling through a work zone, leave early. Not being rushed will give you time to slow down and still arrive at your destination on time.
If you or a loved one has been injured or killed in a vehicle accident in a work zone, contact Guajardo & Marks of Dallas as soon as possible. The partners of Guajardo & Marks have more than 50 years of legal experience between them and have the knowledge and resources to help with your legal needs. If you have questions or would like to set up an appointment, contact us online or call us at 972.774.9800.