Advocate Editorial Board opinion: Road construction means pay attention
As drivers crisscross the state of Texas, they often find themselves driving through roadwork or construction zones. It is a never-ending effort to keep Texas' roads and highways well-maintained, but that effort comes with certain risks for motorists.
There are as many as 2,500 active work zones in the state at any given time, according to the Texas Department of Transportation website. As important as this work is, it also presents an additional driving hazard. The majority of fatalities in work zones are motorists, not workers, and the two main causes are failure to control speed and distracted driving.
In addition, the increase in oil and gas traffic is contributing an increase in traffic crashes and fatalities. In the Eagle Ford Shale region, which TxDOT defines as a 26-county region between Laredo and Madisonville, preliminary reports show there were 3,430 fatal and serious injury crashes and 236 traffic fatalities in 2013, which is a 7 percent increase over the previous year.
In response to these numbers, TxDOT has launched its "Be Safe. Drive Smart." campaign. The campaign is aimed at educating drivers and encouraging them to be even more cautious when driving through construction zones or areas where energy traffic is present. The effort is a partnership with oil and gas companies, the Texas Department of Public Safety and communities across the Permian Basin and Eagle Ford Shale energy sectors.
Drivers are encouraged to take basic safety precautions to prevent wrecks. These include encouraging motorists to buckle seatbelts, drive a safe speed, use caution when passing, always stop for stop signs and red lights and avoid using a cellphone while driving. Most of these are not just suggestions; they are part of the state's driving laws. In some cities and communities, using a cellphone is also illegal.
We encourage everyone who is on the road to follow these suggestions to help ensure that Texas roads are safe places for everyone. Our state has not had a fatality-free day on its roads since Nov. 7, 2000. That is far too long, and we hope that streak will be broken soon. No text, phone call or reaching your destination a few minutes faster is worth possibly losing your life or someone else's. Please remember to be safe while driving.
This editorial reflects the views of the Victoria Advocate's editorial board.