With communities across Georgia continuing to grow by leaps and bounds, so, too does a need for new roads and related infrastructure to accommodate these new residents and residential areas. For this reason, road construction is a common occurrence across much of the state’s thoroughfares, but with increased road construction comes an increased risk for construction zone-related car wrecks.

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration, while the number of fatal car crashes occurring across the country went down between 2016 and 2017, the number of fatal wrecks that took place in work zones actually went up. More specifically, while the overall number of fatal car accidents dropped 1.5% nationwide within this period, the number of fatal wrecks taking place in construction zones rose 3% during the same stretch of time.

By the numbers

Just how often are lives lost in U.S. work zones? In 2017, 799 people died due to injuries sustained in construction zone car wrecks. The year prior, 782 people lost their lives in these areas, and while the majority of the people who died were passengers and drivers in vehicles, pedestrians and cyclists, too, were at risk. The number of pedestrians and cyclists killed in work zone incidents rose 9% between 2016 and 2017, raising important questions about how to enhance safety in these increasingly common areas.

Numerous risks

Work zones are inherently dangerous because they represent unfamiliar changes in traffic patterns, which can confuse motorists and lead to poor judgment calls and similar errors. Work zones are also dangerous, however, because in many cases, construction crews fail to put up clear, visible signage that directs drivers where to go. In some cases, the signage, itself, contributes to construction zone car wrecks, because it can decrease visibility for drivers, as can oversize equipment and construction vehicles.

Even when drivers always exercise care when traveling through road construction, they cannot rely on others to always do the same. When other drivers speed or consume alcohol before traveling through work zones, their risk of causing a wreck rises considerably.