Released by TxDOT

TYLER -- As National Work Zone Awareness Week begins across the country, the Texas Department of Transportation has a simple message to motorists across the state: work zones are dangerous.

Think you've heard it all before?

Think again.

"Common sense tells you that between the heavy equipment and traffic moving through a work zone, it would be the workers who were in the greatest danger," said TxDOT public information officer Larry Krantz. "But statistics show that four out of every five fatalities that occur in work zones are motorists driving through."

That's the message TxDOT and the Federal Highway Administration are working together to spread during National Work Zone Awareness Week, which runs April 15-19 both in Texas and across the country.

“We’re doing everything we can to raise awareness of the dangers posed to everyone in work zones, particularly to motorists,” Krantz said. “We’ve even begun deploying temporary rumble strips on the approaches to some work zones as an added indication of the work zone ahead. The idea is to get the driver re-focused on driving and paying attention as they enter the job site.”

Since 2008, there have been 1,759 work-zone crashes in the eight-county Tyler District, which resulted in 29 fatalities. Statewide, those numbers are 78,068 work-zone crashes in which 627 people died.

Statistics show that the causes for work zone crashes are the same causes for crashes elsewhere -- excessive speed and distractions -- but the cramped confines of a work zone, combined with the condition of the road under repair only magnify the effects.

When combined with other issues such as fatigued driving or other forms of impairment behind the wheel, spending even a few minutes in a work zone can be an eye-opening experience.

"It is absolutely critical that motorists give work zones their undivided attention while they're behind the

wheel, not just during this week, but every day throughout the year." Krantz said. "Remember, we’re all in this together. We're your friends and neighbors working inside these cones. We want to go home to our families in one piece at the end of the day. And as your friends and neighbors, we want the same for you."