Like most people, you may try to find an alternate route anytime you learn of upcoming road construction, and statistically speaking, you may be wise to do so. In addition to being a time-waster and an annoyance, construction zones can be downright dangerous places to drive, and the number of people losing their lives in work zone crashes in America is on the rise.

According to the Federal Highway Administration, fatal work zone crashes in the U.S. rose 3% in 2017 in comparison with the year prior. Fatal crashes that took place outside of road construction zones, however, decreased during this period, highlighting just how hazardous work zones can be for drivers and passengers.

Work zone car crash facts and figures

In 2017, 799 people died in car crashes that took place in U.S. construction zones, with another 782 people losing their lives in work zone accidents the year prior. While drivers and passengers made up the vast majority of those work zone road deaths, pedestrians and bicyclists, too, face increased dangers in these areas.

Just what is it about road construction that makes it so dangerous to navigate around? Unfortunately, there are numerous dangers associated with driving through work zones. For starters, unfamiliar traffic patterns and unanticipated stopped traffic can lead to car crashes. So, too, can unclear signage or construction equipment or machinery that blocks a motorist’s view.

While these hazards have the potential to impact all drivers, they can prove particularly dangerous for motorists who are already driving dangerously, whether by speeding or driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Speed, for example, was a factor in more than a quarter of all work zone fatalities that took place in 2017.

Construction workers and companies have a duty to mitigate public hazards in work zones as much as possible. When other motorists drive negligently in these areas, however, they will continue to endanger everyone else traveling through them.