As part of National Work Zone Awareness Week, AAA encourages motorists to plan ahead, slow down and stay alert in work zone areas
WASHINGTON, April 4, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- While roadway workers face obvious risks to their safety, nearly 85 percent of those killed in work zone crashes are drivers or their passengers, not the roadway workers. During National Work Zone Awareness Week, AAA reminds motorists to use caution and drive safely when approaching and driving through work zones.
The number of lives lost in work zone-related traffic crashes has decreased by more than 43 percent from 1,186 in 2002 to 667 in 2009, the most recent year for which data are available.
"We continue to see progress in the reduction of work zone-related traffic crashes, however, with 13 people a week dying in these crashes, it's clear more can and should be done to keep motorists, passengers and highway workers safe in work zones," said AAA Vice President of Public Affairs Kathleen Marvaso. "As we aspire to move the nation toward zero traffic deaths, simple tasks such as slowing down, observing posted advisories, preparing for unusual driving conditions and practicing patience can reduce a motorist's crash risk in a work zone."
AAA offers the following work zone safety tips to motorists:
Plan Ahead – Motorists are encouraged to check for planned work zone delays and traffic advisories and allot extra travel time prior to departing for their trip. Travelers may use AAA's online TripTik® Travel Planner to create maps and get turn-by-turn directions. TripTik® Travel Planner identifies longer-term construction areas and delivers advisory messages for such things as areas of historic congestion. Travelers are encouraged to visit state and local department of transportation websites for the latest road travel information and plan alternative routes to their destinations as needed. For on-the-go use, the routing feature in AAA's free TripTik Mobile app assists motorists to navigate a new route.
Reduce Speed – For the safety of all drivers and construction workers, normal posted speed limits are often reduced in work zones. Most states double fines for speeding in work zones when workers are present. Drivers should not underestimate the speed at which they're traveling before beginning to slow down; it can take longer than a driver may think to reduce a vehicle's speed enough to safety enter the work zone area. Motorists, while keeping consistent with the flow of traffic, should maintain a safe distance between vehicles ahead, traffic barriers, construction workers and equipment.
Remain Alert – As with any driving situation, minimize interior and exterior distractions. Motorists should obey the directions of any police officer, firefighter or road crew flagger and follow all posted work zone advisories and signage. Temporary work zone signs are orange and commonly diamond-shaped. Construction zones may contain unusual vehicles or machinery that can divert a driver's attention as well as traffic cones, barrels, flashing lights and concrete barriers. Drivers should be prepared to stop, slow down, shift lanes, merge and yield to the movement of construction workers and equipment. Motorists should not turn off their vehicles when stopped on the roadway unless they will be idling for a significant period of time.
The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety is also supporting National Work Zone Awareness Week by highlighting its Driver-Zed training program during the month of April. Designed for novice drivers, this training program allows users to learn how to safely navigate through different driving scenarios – including through work or construction zones. For more information, go to AAAFoundation.org.
As North America's largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 52 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at AAA.com.
AAA news releases, high resolution images, broadcast-quality video, fact sheets and podcasts are available on the AAA NewsRoom at AAA.com/news.