Warm summer weather results in many road construction projects that can’t be completed during colder weather. For commercial drivers, this means a lot more time driving through work zones. According to National Work Zone Safety Information Clearinghouse data from 2020, even when driving was down overall due to the pandemic, there were still an estimated 102,000 work zone crashes and 857 deaths because of these crashes. There were also 244 commercial motor vehicle (CMV) fatal crashes in 2020. CMVs are involved in more than 30% of fatal work zone crashes on urban interstates and more than 50% of fatal work zone crashes on rural interstates. Clearly, commercial drivers need to take work zone safety seriously.
Why are CMVs more likely to be involved in accidents in work zones?
While the data doesn’t point directly to a specific cause, the National Work Zone Safety Information Clearinghouse suggests four possible reasons:
- There are more work zones on roadways typically traveled by more CMVs.
- More CMVs traveling to or from the work zones to deliver and take away materials or equipment.
- Work zones are more difficult for CMVs to navigate.
- Driver distraction/inattention results in more frequent rear-end crashes by CMVs and by non-CMV vehicles into CMVs.
Work zone driving safety tips
It’s critical for CMV drivers to take extra precautions in work zones. While these tips are useful for all drivers, commercial drivers are driving larger and more dangerous vehicles and therefore must be extra aware and alert.
- Stay alert and minimize distractions.
- Turn on headlights.
- Pay attention to the road and traffic.
- Merge into the proper lane well before a lane closure.
- Don’t tailgate.
- Check routes before leaving and plan for any construction delays.
- Change lanes safely.
- Follow instructions from flaggers.
- Expect the unexpected.