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Don't let those orange barrels lead to a car accident

It's summertime and what does that mean? It means the ubiquitous orange barrels on Illinois' streets and highways. Construction zones can be frustrating to drive in, however, drivers must take care to operate their vehicles safely nonetheless.

In fact, according to one resource by the U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration, over the last five years over 4,400 individuals lost their lives in work zone accidents -- 85 percent of whom were either drivers or passengers of a vehicle. Moreover, more than 200,000 individuals were injured in work zone accidents. Rear-end collisions were the most common type of accidents that took place in work zones, and the summer and fall seasons were the ones most likely to see work zone accidents. Finally, most work zone accidents took place on roadways where the posted speed limit was more than 50 miles per hour.

The following are some tips on how to safely navigate construction zones. First of all, stay alert. Avoid distracting behaviors, such as using a cell phone, tuning the radio or consuming food while driving. Also, drivers in construction zones need to pay attention to the road. This means following directions on signs, keeping an eye on the brake lights on the vehicles in front of them and being prepared to react to traffic in their vicinity.

In addition, drivers should make a point to merge before the lane they are in ends. They should not tailgate and they should obey the posted speed limit. If they must change lanes, they should only do so where the pavement markings and traffic patterns permit them to do so. If there are flaggers directing traffic, drivers should obey the flagger's instructions. Also, drivers in construction zones should keep their headlights on, even during daytime hours, to make them more visible. Finally, drivers should be patient. While construction slowdowns on the road can be frustrating, that does not alleviate drivers of their duty to drive with care.

So, as you travel to and from your summer destinations, take care, especially in construction zones. It only takes one moment for a car accident to occur that could seriously injure or even kill another person. Victims of construction zone accidents who are in need of compensation may want to research what their rights are in such situations.

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