The Bureau of Labor Statistics examined safety trends across all industries and identified trucking and construction among the most dangerous. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) also noted troubling trends when these two industries occupy the same space. Work zones are particularly dangerous for drivers and construction workers alike. The FMCSA is urging drivers to exhibit extra caution when sharing the roads with construction workers.
Large trucks account for a disproportionate number of fatal work zone crashes, and this troubling trend is on the rise. The FMCSA noted several statistics from the most recently available data:
- Large trucks constitute around 5% of all vehicles on the road.
- 33% of fatal work zone crashes involve large trucks.
- Work zone fatalities increased by 11.2% from 2018 to 2019.
This spike in work zone fatalities is the largest percentage increase in this century. As global temperatures continue to rise, truck drivers can expect to encounter more roadway construction sites. This makes fleet safety more pressing than ever before. The FMCSA provided several recommendations to improve safety while truck drivers navigate work zones, including:
- Avoiding distraction. Distracted driving is the number one cause of road accidents when accounting for all motorists.
- Remaining alert. When only considering trucking statistics, driver fatigue is the most common cause of accidents involving commercial motor vehicles.
- Increasing following distance. Work zone lanes are often narrower than typical highway lanes or roads.
- Obeying traffic signs. Many traffic laws change in construction zones. Some of the most common include the speed limit, rules regarding changing lanes, and warnings about changing traffic patterns.
- Following the instructions of flaggers. Many construction zones use flaggers to help redirect traffic, such as when construction work reduces a road to one lane.
These may seem like intuitive measures, but failure to follow them causes hundreds of deaths every year. As the construction season begins, fleets should remind drivers of the different safety precautions they need to take when driving through a work zone. Contact the experts at Interstate Motor Carriers to learn more about improving driver safety.