HOUSTON (KIAH) — Road work and Houston may be synonymous, which is why the Texas Department of Transportation is reminding drivers to “Be Safe. Drive Smart.” to bring awareness to road work safety.

According to TxDOT, in 2021 traffic crashes in the state’s work zones claimed the lives of 244 people, a 33% increase over the previous year.  Overall 195 motorists or vehicle passengers were killed, along with 38 pedestrians, four bicyclists and three roadside construction workers.

“It’s cause for tremendous concern that the number of people killed on our roadways reached a 40-year high last year and fatalities in our work zones rose dramatically,” said TxDOT Executive Director Marc Williams. “It’s important for drivers to remember that driving conditions in work zones can be especially challenging because of extra congestion, slow-moving heavy equipment, temporary barriers and vehicles that make sudden stops.”

The “Be Safe. Drive Smart.” campaign offers five tips for driving safely through a work zone:

1.         Slow down. Follow the posted speed limit and adjust your driving to match road conditions. 

2.         Pay attention. Avoid distractions, keep your mind on the road and put your phone away.

3.         Watch out for road crews. The only protective gear they wear is reflective clothing, a hardhat, and safety boots. Always follow flaggers’ instructions and be mindful of construction area road signs.  

4.         Don’t tailgate. Give yourself room to stop in a hurry, should you need to. Rear-end collisions are the most common kind of work zone crashes.

5.         Allow extra time. Road construction can slow things down. Count on it, and plan for it.

National Work Zone Awareness week takes place between April 11-15. All roadway safety professionals are encouraged to wear orange on April 13 for National Go Orange Day to proudly show their support of work zone safety.