We’ve all seen those signs telling us to slow down as we enter a work zone. Many drivers do follow the slower speed posted in the work zone; others ignore the direction. Lower speed limits are posted in work zones for a number of reasons, the most important of which is to ensure the safety of workers in the area. In addition, traffic pattern shifts, unmarked or poorly marked pavement, uneven pavement, and the unexpected presence of equipment in the area all increase the likelihood of an auto accident.
There is good news. The NC DOT has worked with law enforcement over the past decade to successfully decrease the number of fatalities and crashes in work zones throughout North Carolina. In 2004, there were 5,896 crashes and 50 fatalities; by 2009, the number had dropped to 2,125 crashes and 11 fatalities. This is a significant improvement. Unfortunately, the counties that still have the highest number of auto accidents in work zones are Wake (#1), Mecklenburg (#2) and Durham (#3).
The North Carolina Department of Transportation reports that speed is the primary reason for car crashes that happen in a work zone. The DOT recommends drivers take the following precautions while in a work zone:
- Slow down to the posted speed limit
- Avoid distractions
- Don’t change lanes
- Do not tailgate
- Watch for workers and equipment
- Be patient
If you are caught speeding in a work zone in North Carolina, the fine is currently $250 plus court costs. While having to slow or stop for road construction can be aggravating, remember that if your negligence results in an auto accident, you will be at fault. And if someone dies in an accident that you cause, you may be charged with vehicular manslaughter. We should all do our part to protect workers and avoid accidents.
Watch this NCDOT video: