Posted: April 4, 2018
Last modified: April 4, 2018

April 9 signals the beginning of National Work Zone Awareness Week, a Federal Highway Administration initiative encouraging roadway work zone safety for everyone. The Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) is using this opportunity to remind motorists to help keep roads safe by following posted speed limits within the 21-mile I-4 Ultimate project and all other roadway projects.

Work zones present a number of challenging situations for motorists driving through the complex array of signs, barrels and lane changes.

About 140 lane or ramp shifts have occurred since construction began on the project in 2015, and more are on the way. These changes in roadway configuration are much more manageable for motorists if they’re paying attention to the new patterns by maintaining a safe speed.

While many motorists continue to make sure other drivers, workers and pedestrians are safe, there’s still work to be done.

More than 40,000 people are injured each year as a result of motor vehicle crashes in work zones nationwide. The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles reports that 99 percent of work zone crashes injure drivers and their passengers rather than roadside workers.

Remember the following tips when driving through work zones, not just on National Work Zone Awareness Week, but every day. Maintaining a safe speed can improve driving conditions for everyone.

Adjust your Speed — Traveling 10 mph above the posted work zone speed limit shaves less than three minutes off a 20-mile trip and carries a minimum fine of $200, plus court fees.

Don’t Tailgate — Driving the speed limit also makes it easier for drivers to avoid tailgating. More than half of all work zone crashes are rear end collisions. Passenger vehicles traveling at 50 mph require 300 feet of stopping distance on dry roads. A loaded tractor-trailer needs 450 feet to come to a complete stop.

Pay Attention — Traveling at the posted speed limit allows motorists more response time to recognize and manage the changes in the roadway. Work zones are constantly changing environments. Travel lanes may be different from the last time you drove through the area. Added distractions like texting and talking on the phone, eating and drinking or adjusting the radio and navigation system divert your attention from the primary task of driving.

When you see orange barrels, maintain a safe speed, pay attention and put your phone away. Keep the men and women who maintain and build our roads safe, as well as you and your passengers.