The sight of orange cones and barrels marking work zones on Maryland highways is so common, drivers don't think too much about them. That's part of the problem. The Maryland Department of Transportation estimates that an average 2,237 traffic accidents occur in or around Maryland work zones every year, resulting in 1,250 people injured and 11 people killed.
Nationally, some 700 people die each year in motor vehicle crashes occurring in road work zones. The road construction workers are themselves at risk, often operating machinery just a few feet from speeding traffic. (Sad case in point: Two Pessoa Construction Company workers were killed in a work zone crash in Cecil County, Maryland earlier this year.) Police on detail are also at risk of being struck by passing vehicles.
But the national figure of 700 people killed in roadside work zone crashes are mostly drivers or passengers travelling in motor vehicles on roads and bridges under construction. An estimated four of five people killed in work zone accidents are motorists, not highway workers.
Maryland observes Work Zone Safety Awareness Month in April. As road construction season begins, the state DOT offers a few tips for drivers:
Seeing Orange. Cones and barrels are placed in the roadway for a reason--not as an obstacle course for Maryland's hurried drivers. When you encounter these in your travels, expect a work zone around the corner.
Slow Down. Stay Alert. Work zones often funnel traffic into a reduced number of lanes, requiring lane merges. Plan ahead so you're not jockeying with other motorists to merge into travel lanes that are rapidly narrowing. Drive defensively!
Minimize Distractions. Remember texting while driving and using handheld cell phones are both illegal in the State of Maryland!
Stay Informed. Plan Ahead. Dial 511 for the latest roadway closures and delays in Maryland, or visit the Maryland 511 website. Avoid a mad rush -- and a traffic accident -- by knowing when and where road construction is occurring and altering your travel route accordingly. Speed is a factor in motor vehicle accidents, and wherever you need to get to on time isn't worth risking life and limb.
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Maryland Dept. of Transportation April 16, 2013
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Maryland Dept. of Transportation, State Highway Administration
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