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Colorado’s population continues to undergo explosive growth. With an influx of new residents comes an increase in road construction to accommodate them. It seems as if there is road work around every corner. The state’s roadways are in constant need of expansion and repair, and the work zones can, at times, prove highly dangerous. The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration notes that work-zone crashes are on the rise across Colorado and the nation as a whole — so much so that the number of crashes that occurred within work zones climbed 43 percent from 2013 to 2015. More than 96,600 crashes took place in the nation’s work zones in 2015 alone. What is it about construction that makes driving in these areas so dangerous? For starters, road work itself presents certain risks, as large trucks, heavy machinery, and the like can be difficult to see or maneuver around. Additionally, some motorists who are used to certain traffic patterns may have a hard time adjusting to detours and changes in their standard routes. While certain elements within work zones make driving through them inherently dangerous, this is particularly true when motorists fail to follow the rules of the road. For example, in 2014, 607 fatal work-zone crashes occurred across the United States, and alcohol was a factor in a quarter of them. Furthermore, speed had a hand in nearly 30 percent of all fatal work-zone crashes that took place in 2014, highlighting the fact that all drivers must slow down and exercise extreme caution when traveling through these construction areas. While you can do your part to enhance safety in work zones by remaining alert and driving carefully, your efforts are limited when others fail to be as
diligent. Still, being proactive and driving defensively can make a difference.
There are accident-avoidance strategies you can exercise to avoid these wrecks and any other kind. In many accident cases, drivers become complacent, and they take their safety for granted. They don’t think about the hazards that exist on just about every road and highway, from dangerous machinery in work zones to other drivers who are simply not paying attention. The inherent dangers of driving create the need to be vigilant about safety at all times. Here are three vital safety tips that drivers often forget: Maintain a Defensive Stance Driving can be frustrating, especially when you’re running late or just want to get to your destination. A slow driver in front of you can make you want to tailgate them or swerve around them quickly in order to continue at your preferred speed. But this kind of behavior is the opposite of defensive driving, and it is exactly what gets a lot of people killed on U.S. roads every year. Try to relax, take a deep breath, and understand that getting to your destination a few minutes faster (if that) isn’t worth the risk — even if you’re running behind. Adopting a cautious stance while driving could save your life. Follow the 12-Second Rule Using this rule helps you keep your eyes forward and alert while navigating through traffic. Always scan ahead to where you will be 12 seconds in the future. This will help you anticipate potential dangers and give you enough time to slow down and avoid them when necessary.
Be Careful at Intersections Intersections are the common sites of many accidents, whether they are caused by red-light runners, distracted drivers, oblivious pedestrians, or vehicles crossing traffic to make a left-hand turn. Always scan the intersection before entering it to be sure there aren’t any potential dangers present. No matter how careful and attentive we are as drivers, we can still suffer injuries in accidents caused by the negligence of others. With more drivers on Colorado roads than ever, and with more construction every day, it’s up to us as individual drivers to be as safe as possible. We can’t count on other drivers to be safe for us.
Here’s to a safe and happy holiday season,
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