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Guest Blog – MassDOT, MAPFRE Insurance Reminder: Be Aware of Work Zones

After dealing with snow, ice and rainy conditions the past few months, many states across the country schedule much needed road repairs in the spring time. This means you will see an increase in work zones both on and off the interstates. A work zone is an area where roadwork takes place and typically involves construction, maintenance and utility work. The area is marked with signs, channelizing devices, barriers, pavement markings and/or work vehicles. Often times, messaging for work zones get ignored, leading to dangerous driving habits in areas where extra caution is needed to protect yourself, and those performing the dangerous job of fixing our roads. That is the reason for April’s National Work Zone Awareness Week (NWZAW).

NWZAW is an annual public health and safety event which shines a much-deserved spotlight on how we are all equally responsible for maintaining work zone safety. As roadways are built, maintained and upgraded with the latest safety features, it is also essential that roadway construction and maintenance zones are safe for workers.

Work zones contribute to the overall national crash statistics that we all want to see decreased. In 2020, there was a 21% increase in work zone fatalities, according to the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA). Since 2015, the annual number of fatalities overall has exceeded 35,000, with millions more injured each year. While the actual work usually happens at night, the majority of work zone accidents actually occur in the daytime hours.

Work zones are a sign to slow down. Please keep these FHWA tips in mind when approaching a work zone.

  • Plan ahead. Before traveling, look up the latest traffic conditions on the route you plan to take, especially during spring and early summer, when most roadwork takes place. Information on active work zones in Massachusetts is available here.
  • Minimize distractions. Be aware of your surroundings, avoid changing radio stations, and put your phone away when driving through a work zone.
  • Pay attention and look out for roadway workers.
  • Check your speed. Obey posted work zone speed limits, look out for stopped or slow traffic, and maintain a safe following distance from the vehicle in front of you to reduce the risk of crashes with other vehicles and with highway workers.
  • Be careful around large vehicles. Large vehicles can be harder to maneuver and slower to respond, so avoid making sudden lane changes in front of trucks or buses and look out for construction vehicles.
  • Be prepared for sudden stops. Work zones sometime cause congestion, delays, and traffic queues. Be alert and watch for sudden stops. In 2020, 20% of all fatal work zone crashes involved rear-end collisions.
  • Slow down. Speed was a contributing factor in over 37% of 2020 fatal work zone crashes, increasing from 32% the year prior.
  • Read the Signs. Signs provide guidance to road users of traffic laws or regulations within the work zones. Remember that signs, cones, barrels, and flaggers are there to help maneuver you safely through the work zone.

If you find yourself in need of assistance, the MassDOT Highway Assistance Program sponsored by MAPFRE Insurance is on patrol to help on highways. Patrol operators monitor some of the state’s busiest highways around Metro Boston, Worcester, Springfield and Cape Cod (seasonal). The Highway Assistance Patrol covers 13 major state roadways and interstates, the Emergency Service Patrol covers the Mass Pike (I-90) from New York to Boston and the Incident Response Operators cover the Metropolitan Highway System and tunnels. The Highway Assistance Patrol is in service Monday–Friday between the hours of 6 a.m.–10 a.m. and 3 p.m.–7 p.m. During holidays, there are extended routes in heavy traffic areas. On I-90, and in Boston’s tunnel system, assistance is provided 24 hours per day, 7 days a week.

Your Friends at MAPFRE Insurance

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