Reducing Speed Matters

Especially in Construction Zones

Prepared by Mark Ruset, ECCL’s Co-Chair, Safety and Transportation Council

[1] National Safety Council (NSC) analysis of National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)

https://safer-america.com

To enhance road safety in Estero, the ECCL would like to remind everyone of the dangers of excessive speed, especially when driving through a road construction zone.

It is not just the speed we drive but also the relative velocity to other vehicles, the types of vehicles sharing the road, the road conditions, and the skill variability of drivers we need to be aware of while we navigate our streets. A wide range of drivers uses Estero roads (new drivers to those 80+), different vehicle types (trucks, SUVs, large sedans, and bicycles), and in varying road conditions.

The exact relationship between speed and accidents depends on many factors. However, the relationship is proven: if the driving speeds increase, the accident rate also increases [1].  

The driver and passengers’ injuries in a collision are a direct result of the speed, the weight of the vehicles, and the “vulnerability” of the vehicles/road users involved. As speeds increase, crashes also result in more severe injuries for the driver who caused the crash and the innocent party. In a collision between a light vehicle and a heavier one, the occupants of the more lightweight vehicle are considerably worse off than the heavier vehicle. Pedestrians, cyclists, and moped riders in crashes with heavier motor vehicles fair badly!

Road Construction Dangers

Improvement in the road network in a location offers numerous benefits to drivers and residents. Unfortunately, while improvements are taking place, it also brings about many hazards. Construction areas need clear signs, warnings, and markers to help identify the dangers. Unfortunately, road construction sites are not always as organized with suitable signage. Even when they are, considerable risks are still present in construction zones.

Some of the greatest dangers linked to road construction include:

  • Loose rocks, gravel, and debris
  • Presence of machinery and other construction equipment
  • Confusing signage
  • Fallen cones and misplaced signs
  • Unsafe behavior by construction workers
  • Narrow lanes of traffic
  • Changes in familiar driving routes
  • Driver confusion and failure to properly navigate the construction area

How Common Are Car Accidents in Construction Zones?

road construction zone

The number of car accidents that occur in construction zones each year is not high compared to other types of car crashes. But, because only a tiny percent of the country’s roadways are under construction at any one time, accidents per mile are significantly higher. Unfortunately, the fatalities resulting from car crashes in work zones have been increasing considerably in recent years.

According to the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA)[1], fatal crashes in work zones increased by 11 percent between 2018 and 2019, while deadly crashes outside work zones decreased by two percent. The total number of work zone crash fatalities in 2018 was 757. This number increased to 842 in 2019. According to the FHWA[2], most of these crashes occurred in construction zones on arterial roadways (high-capacity urban roads), followed closely by road construction sites on interstates.

Given the level of road construction projects in Estero, the ECCL would like to impress on everyone the need to be diligent and aware of their surroundings, especially in areas when major reconstruction is underway; this includes motorists, cyclists, and pedestrians.

 

 

[1] https://ops.fhwa.dot.gov/wz/resources/facts_stats.htm

[2] National Safety Council (NSC) analysis of National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) 

https://safer-america.com

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