Work zone safety top of mind for TxDOT workers after deadly 2021

Nearly 250 people died in crashes in Texas work zones last year, which is a 33 percent increase from 2020.
Published: Apr. 8, 2022 at 5:29 AM CDT
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WACO, Texas (KWTX) - Road construction is all too common in Central Texas right now, and unfortunately, so are work zone crashes.

There were more than 1,400 crashes in the Waco area alone last year, and six people died.

Across the state, nearly 250 people died in work zone crashes in 2021, which is a 33 percent increase from 2020. Overall, there were more than 26,000 crashes in Texas work zones.

Billy Kirksey, TxDOT work zone crew chief for the Waco district, said they do what they can to create safe work zones, but there are things drivers can do to help themselves--and the crews–stay safe on the roads.

“Slow down and drive to the conditions. Pay special attention to your driving,” Kirksey said. “Stay alert, stay off your phone, don’t tailgate. Be on the lookout for us road crew out there. Follow their instructions. Remember, we want to get home safely, too.”

TxDOT said the dramatic rise in work zone fatalities, along with the number of people killed on Texas roadways reaching a 40 year high, is a cause for tremendous concern.

TxDOT adds driving in work zones can be especially challenging due to extra traffic, temporary barriers and vehicles making sudden stops, which is why everyone should slow down and pay more attention.

“Put yourself in our boots. We work next to the roads where a lot of drivers are going way too fast, and a lot of times they’re just not paying attention,” Kirksey said. “The only protection we have is our safety shirts and our hard hats. We want to go home to our families at the end of the day just like you, so please watch out for us.”

TxDOT is reminding drivers of these tips ahead of Work Zone Awareness Week, which begins on April 11. Overall, last year was the second deadliest year on Texas roads since TxDOT began tracking in 1940. Nearly 4,500 people died.

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