Work zones are highly dangerous environments for drivers and workers alike. The state relies on roadside construction work to improve its roads, but this is one of the most dangerous jobs in Texas. In 2018, 25,162 work zone traffic accidents in Texas took 161 lives and caused 684 serious injuries. Most people killed (84%) were drivers and their passengers. As a driver passing through work zones in Texas, it is critical to understand and obey the state’s work-zone laws. Otherwise, you could cause a serious accident.
Reduced Speed Limits
If a construction company has put up temporary speed limit signs, they take precedence over previous speed limits in the area. As a driver, you must obey the temporary speed limit signs posted in the work zone, even if the speed is much lower than what it usually is on the road or highway. Most work zones also have signs explaining that the police will double the fines for speeding in these areas to discourage this dangerous practice. Work zone speeding tickets in Texas can cost up to $1,000 when workers are present.
The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) says speeding is one of the top causes of work zone crashes throughout the state. It has established a 65-mile-per-hour speed limit within one mile of construction zones along State Highway 130. Speeding can make it impossible to stop in time to prevent colliding with barriers, work vehicles or workers. Always reduce your speed to within the posted limit and according to what is safe for driving conditions while in a work zone.
Move Over Law
Texas has a Move Over/Slow Down Law that applies to TxDOT workers as well as emergency vehicles as of September 1st, 2013. This law requires all drivers to either move a lane over or reduce their speeds when approaching roadway construction zones, TxDOT workers, and all vehicles stopped by the road with flashing blue or amber lights. If you see TxDOT workers on the side of the road, you must move a lane over or slow down to 20 miles per hour below the posted speed limit. On roads with speed limits of 25 or less, reduce your speed to 5 miles per hour. Violating the state’s Move Over Law in a work zone could lead to a fine of up to $2,000.
Many work zones organize detours around the part of the road being worked on. Like work zone speed limits, these detours take superiority over any preexisting roadway signs, road paint or markings. You must follow detour signs and barriers carefully when passing through work zones in Texas. Ignoring detour signs could lead to you driving dangerously close to an active work zone or workers doing their jobs. Reduce your speed, pay attention and prepare to use a detour to safely navigate through or around a work zone.
Distracted Driving Laws
Aside from speeding, driver inattention is the leading cause of work zone crashes in Texas. Driver distraction and inattention can lead to drivers missing detours, ignoring speed limits, tailgating, causing accidents and striking workers. As a driver, it is imperative to obey Texas’ distracted driving laws. The state’s cellphone ordinance makes it illegal to text and drive. No driver may send or receive electronic messages using handheld cellphones. Drivers under the age of 18 cannot use cellphones for any reason. Local cities may have additional driver distraction laws to follow as well. To learn about Texas’ distracted driving laws and accidents, speak to a distracted driver accident attorney in Dallas.
Distracted driving causes thousands of car accidents, deaths and injuries per year in the U.S. Work zones are highly dangerous places to engage in things that may distract you, such as cellphones, food, drinks, passengers, radios and maps. Work zones require total vigilance to safely navigate through unusual twists and turns. Always dedicate 100% of your attention to the road, especially in confusing work zones when workers are present. Put your phone away and pay attention to the road in work zones to help prevent deadly auto accidents.