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REGIONAL: AAA reminds motorists to drive cautiously near work zones

National Work Zone Awareness Week is this week and AAA Carolinas supports this nationwide initiative that aims to remind motorists the importance of being extra vigilant while driving through work zones. As the spring season brings the start of road construction, drivers will begin to run into more blocked off lanes and work zones on major roads.

“It’s important that motorists take work zones seriously and drive cautiously through them,” said Tiffany Wright, spokesperson, AAA – The Auto Club Group in the Carolinas. “Road safety crews and construction workers risk their lives on busy roadways to improve the driving conditions in our state and we must do our part as motorists to help keep them safe.”

Between 2018 and 2019, fatal crashes in work zones increased by 11 percent. According to the National Work Zone Safety Information Clearinghouse, there were 762 fatal crashes nationwide that occurred in work zones in 2019, which is up from the previous 3-year average of 694. In North Carolina, there were 16 fatalities in 2019 in work-zones and in South Carolina there were 10.

As motorists approach a marked work zone, they should expect a reduced speed limit and lane closures. This may make the existing lanes narrow and traffic will have to shift to adjust.

“We urge motorists to prepare for sudden changes in driving conditions when approaching work zone areas,” Wright said. “By simply staying alert and slowing down, motorists can help prevent work zone crashes and keep themselves, their passengers, and roadway construction workers safe.”

Work zones are protected by the “Move Over Law,” which requires that drivers — if they deem it is safe to do so – move a lane away from any law enforcement or emergency vehicle on the side of the road. Failure to adhere to the Move Over Law in North Carolina will result in a $500 fine along with the possibility of being charged with a felony if a collision occurs.  Failure to adhere to the Move Over Law in South Carolina is considered a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of not less than $300 nor more than $500.

AAA Carolinas advises motorists to adhere to the following tips when driving in a work zone:

  • Stay alert
  • Reduce speed
  • Observe posted signs until you see “End Road Work”
  • Turn on headlights
  • Scan the road ahead to see how traffic is adjusting
  • Do not follow too closely behind cars
  • Put away all distractions
  • Use your turn signals
  • Watch for brake lights ahead
  • Be patient and avoid road rage

Some work zones are mobile and moving, such as when line painting, road patching or mowing are occurring. Just because you do not see the workers immediately after you see the warning sign does not mean they are not there. Observe the posted signs until you see the one that says “End Road Work.”