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Drivers urged to obey construction zone laws to avoid accidents

A Maryland State Police lieutenant colonel on his way to a news conference about highway safety on Tuesday was ironically nearly hit by a college student who was tailgating the officer while texting. After barely avoiding a car accident, the officer stopped the driver and gave her a warning. Then he continued on to the State Highway Administration event where he delivered his message about the importance of safe driving, especially with construction season upon us.

As easy as it is for drivers to become distracted by cell phones, text messaging, and others in the vehicle, it's important to follow safety rules, especially in construction zones. According to state statistics an average of 2,600 work-zone crashes take place in Maryland each year. These accidents result in 1,400 injuries and 12 deaths.

For a construction crew, a day at the "office," is often a day spent on the side of a highway with nothing but an orange vest to protect them from oncoming traffic. It's important for drivers to follow the work-zone speed limits and drive with caution in construction areas, not only for the safety of construction workers, but for their own safety as well. Four out of five fatalities in work-zone accidents are motorists.

To decrease the number of such accidents, four Beltway work zone areas in the Baltimore area have cameras that have caught more than 1 million drivers exceeding the limit by at least 12 mph. The drivers caught on camera later received $40 tickets in the mail.

Ticket or no ticket, speeding in construction zones can result in accidents that put both drivers and workers at risk. If drivers follow speed limit laws, refrain from talking on cell phones, texting and other distractions, hopefully the spring construction projects ahead will be accident free for everyone.

Source: The Baltimore Sun, "Highway agency readies for warm-weather projects," Candus Thomson, April 10, 2012

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