If you've ever traveled I-64 near Afton Mountain in Virginia, you know that is a beautiful drive that leaves the Shenandoah Valley and crosses the Blue Ridge Mountains down to the flat land surrounding Richmond. Maybe you've noticed the Virginia Department of Transportation's (VDOT) Worker's Memorial that sits on the side of the mountain. The picture to the right is from the memorial and is used with permission from VDOT's site that can be found here.
That memorial has the names of 132 VDOT employees that have been killed during the performance of their duties building and repairing Virginia's roads. Sadly that number is drop in the bucket when you add the vast number of employees from state contracted construction companies to the mix that have been killed in the line of duty.
Nationally, more than 700 people are killed and more than 37,000 are injured each year in crashes in highway work zones. Those deaths account for approximately two percent of highway fatalities. On average, four out of five people killed in work zone crashes are motorists or their passengers.
Here are 9 simple rules for driving safely through a construction zone
Avoid activities when driving such as using cell phones, changing radio stations, eating or engaging in any activity that takes your eyes off the roadway.
Pay close attention
Signs and work zone flaggers save lives.
Turn on your headlights
Workers and other motorists must see you.
Unexpected stops frequently occur in work zones.
Note the speed limits in and around the work zone.
Keep up with traffic flow
Dedicate your full attention to the road and those traveling around you.
Don't change lanes in the work zone
The time saved just isn't worth it.
Expect the unexpected
Keep an eye out for workers and their equipment.
Remember, the work zone crew members are working to improve your future travels.