Traveling through highway work zones can be frustrating. Most people do not like being stuck in traffic on a warm summer day. However, in order to have drivable roads and sturdy bridges and overpasses, road construction is a necessity, especially on high traffic roads, highways and interstates throughout Northwest Indiana. Safety is of utmost importance for the road construction crews, trucks delivering materials to individual job sites, and the motorists attempting to navigate torn up roads and lane closures.
Common Causes of Collisions
In 2014, police crash data showed that 14 people were killed and more than 400 were injured in INDOT work zones. The most common causes of collision noted by police include:
- Following too closely.
- Unsafe lane movement.
- Failure to yield right-of-way.
- Ran off roadway.
- Ran over object in roadway.
- Improper lane change.
- Driver inattention.
- Unsafe speed.
These causes resulted in the following common types of collisions: Rear-end, same direction sideswipe, head-on between two motor vehicles, and roadway departure.
Work Zone Crash Statistics
- Nationally, four out of five people killed in work zones are drivers and passengers—not highway workers.
- Rear-end crashes are the most common type of work zone crash.
- It takes just one minute more to travel through a two-mile work zone at 45 mph than 65 mph.
- Areas where traffic is entering or leaving work zones are often more dangerous because drivers may be changing lanes and merging.
- Most fatal work zone crashes occur on roads with speed limits greater than 50 mph.
- Fatal work zone crashes occur most often in summer and fall.
Tips for Driving Safely in Work Zones
- Take extra care to pay attention and expect the unexpected. Work Zone configurations can change without notice.
- Don’t text or talk on the phone and avoid taking your hands off the wheel. Distracted driving has become a crisis on all roadways. Driver inattention is a leading cause of all highway crashes.
- Watch for speed limit reductions, narrowing lanes, changing traffic patterns, and—most importantly—highway workers.
- Respect the posted speed limits and safely merge as soon as safely possible as this will allow traffic to flow smoothly. Keep in mind, driving 45 MPH instead of 55 MPH through a 5 mile work zone will only add 1.2 minutes to your trip. Speeding and aggressive driving is a major cause of work zone crashes.
- Keep a safe distance on all sides of your vehicles and maintain a safe following distance. Rear-end collisions are the most common type of work zone crash.
- Respect the flaggers and obey their guidance. Be patient when driving through work sites with flagger control.
- Pay attention to the construction signing. Those signs are carefully selected to give drivers accurate information and important warnings.
- Expect delays and allow extra travel time to travel through work zones.
- Select alternate routes if possible to avoid the work zone completely.
- Be patient and stay calm. Remember that the construction crews are working to make the road better for you!
Work Zone Safety is everyone’s responsibility. Please use caution and common sense when driving through highway work zones.
Steep Fines in Work Zones
The Indiana Work Zone Safety Law sets steep penalties for driving infractions within highway work zones. First time citations for speeding in a work zone result in a $300 fine. The fine increases to $500 for a second offense and $1,000 for a third offense within three years. Motorists who drive recklessly or aggressively through a work zone face fines up to $5,000. Drivers who injure or kill a highway worker may end up paying a $10,000 fine and serving up to six years behind bars. Fines generated from the work zone law are used to fund additional work zone patrols in an around work zones.