With work crews now active all along the I-395 corridor, transportation officials are warning drivers to avoid distractions.
The Virginia Department of Transportation and Transurban, which operates the I-95 and I-495 Express Lanes, said it is mounting a campaign to stop distracted driving following a survey revealing that nine of ten drivers say they’ve used a cell phone while behind the wheel.
The “Orange Cones, No Phones” campaign calls for additional police presence, signage, and online and radio campaigns encouraging drivers to stay alert through work zones.
Transurban and VDOT are installing Express Lanes on the I-395 corridor and work will continue through the fall of 2019.
Transurban spokesman Mike McGurk said distracted drivers can pose a danger around work zones because there is less margin for error. Work crews are often mere feet from moving vehicles and there is no shoulder in many areas.
“There are limited places for drivers to pull over,” he said. “You have less room out there, you have people right next to your vehicle and you have that more narrow feeling.”
McGurk said that any phone conversation, even if using a hands-free device, can cause a driver to be distracted.
“We want people as they enter the work zone to end the call and just hang up,” he said.
Currently, drivers heading north on I-395 will see work crews on right (east) side of the road. Crews are currently installing sound walls and working on storm drainage.
VDOT reported that 25 percent of traffic fatalities in the state in 2017 were the result of distracted driving. It said there were 12 traffic deaths in work zones, stemming from 2,666 crashes.
A March survey of 1,000 drivers who traveled on I-395 revealed that one in six drivers admit to having their cell phone in their hand while driving, and 54 percent admitted to using their cell phones behind the wheel at least occasionally.
But, 78 percent of survey respondents said they put down their cell phones after seeing a police officer, and 70 percent said they were influenced by signage urging them to stop using cell phones.
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