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How often are work zones a factor in accidents and road deaths?

California’s roadways are constantly undergoing repair and growth, and this means most motorists find themselves making their way through work zones on a regular basis. Many drivers experience anxiety or nervousness when navigating their way through these road construction zones, though, and with good reason. Work zones are a common factor in numerous auto accidents, and they also contribute to the number of deaths that occur on the state's and nation’s roadways.

Just how much of a factor are work zones in traffic accidents, injuries and deaths?

A two-fold threat

Work zones, per the U.S. Department of Transportation's Federal Highway Administration, endanger the public in several different ways. First, the very fact that road construction is underway can cause accidents, because motorists may have a harder time seeing around construction vehicles and signage, following unclear detours and so on. In addition to the road construction itself, however, drivers making their way through work zones also run the risk of getting into accidents with other potentially confused or negligent motorists.

For example, even if you are exercising extreme care in a work zone, the person traveling behind you may not do the same, making it difficult for that driver to stop suddenly if the need arises. Additionally, motorists who abuse alcohol or speed when making their way through work zones compound the existing dangers associated with work zones, and the results are often deadly.

By the numbers

In 2014, for example, a total of 669 people lost their lives in crashes involving work zones, making work zones a factor in 2 percent of all road deaths nationally. Other factors, too, were often in play, with speed a factor in 28 percent of work zone accidents and alcohol a factor in a quarter of them.

In other words, making your way through a work zone presents inevitable dangers, but exercising care when traveling through them will reduce your injury and fatality risk to some degree. When others behave negligently in work zones, however, there is only so much you can do to protect yourself.

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