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Extra cautions required while driving in construction zones

Road construction is basically a year-round activity here in Mississippi. Therefore, it's not uncommon to come upon road crews.

Unfortunately, construction zones can be dangerous places for those in vehicles and construction workers alike. According to the Federal Highway Administration, more than 200,000 people have been injured and 4,400 killed during the past five years in these areas.

Drivers need to begin taking extra precautions as soon as they see signs that there is roadwork ahead. People who wait until they're upon the construction zone to slow down can cause a horrible chain-reaction crash behind them.

Rear-end collisions are the most common type of crash in these areas. Often they're the result of tailgating. By keeping a safe distance behind the vehicle in front of you, you're less likely to end up in one of these crashes.

There are some additional safety tips to keep in mind as you approach a construction zone.

-- Drive at the posted speed limit. Generally, special speed limits are posted in construction zones. By obeying them, you not only help keep yourself and others safe, but avoid a potentially large fine. Speeding fines are often double the usual amount in construction zones.

-- Turn on your headlights, regardless of the time of day or weather. It helps your vehicle be more visible to workers and other vehicles.

-- Use care if merging is necessary. Often roadwork involves the closure of one or more lanes. We've all seen those drivers who rush to the front to cut in.

-- Stay focused on your driving. Of course, this is always important. However, too many drivers forced to stop or slow considerably during a traffic decide this is a good time to check their email or send a text. (Texting while driving is prohibited under Mississippi law.) This is the time to remain ever more vigilant. Not only are other drivers more likely to be behaving unsafely, but there are flagmen and other workers on the road.

Unfortunately, too many drivers don't follow these safety tips. That's why construction zone crash injuries and deaths are so high. More drivers are actually injured and killed in these crashes than construction workers.

If you or a loved one is injured in a construction zone due to another driver's negligence or unsafe actions, an experienced attorney can provide you with guidance on your legal options.

Source: esurance, "7 Tips for Driving Through a Roadwork Zone," Rebecca Goldfarb, accessed Jan. 20, 2017

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