Highways across the country are never in perfect condition. Whether it is from severe weather, high use or improving technologies, freeways, toll roads and surface streets seem to always need some maintenance. Texas is no exception and Houston drivers must often navigate challenging work zones. Unfortunately, heavy traffic, including countless semi-trucks, can make these work zones dangerous.
The Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration often releases truck accident statistics pamphlets encouraging road safety. Their current release contains numerous shocking stats regarding work zone crashes involving large trucks, including:
- Nearly 30% of all work zone collisions involve large trucks such as semi-trucks, 18-wheelers and construction vehicles.
- 65% of all large truck collision fatalities occurred during the day.
- Nearly all (90%) the fatal work zone collisions that involved a large truck occurred on a straight stretch of road.
Collisions involving 18-wheelers are often devastating due to the size and weight disparity. These larger vehicles will often destroy smaller passenger cars leading to catastrophic injuries such as brain damage, spinal cord damage, paralysis or amputation. Severe wrecks can be fatal for vehicle occupants.
Safety tips for truck drivers
As professional drivers, truckers must exercise a higher level of caution when entering and passing through a work zone. Safety practices can include:
- Increasing follow distance to ensure proper time to stop or slow down to avoid stopped traffic
- Avoiding distractions such as cell phone use, eating or manipulating a GPS unit
- Taking advantage of increased height and view distance to identify lane closures, merges or stopped traffic
- Remaining cautious of smaller vehicles attempting to pass or merge even when posted warning signs discourage it
Work zones often include shifting lanes, speed changes, narrowing lanes, merges and traffic switches. Additionally, drivers must be aware of warning signs and flaggers. All drivers must work to remain safe in highway construction zones.