Raleigh -Check your speedometer. If you drive through the Fortify work zone in Raleigh at the posted speed limit of 60 mph, many times you'll see drivers zipping by, clocking in at speeds well above the designated limit.
Speeders are of dire concern to the North Carolina Department of Transportation -especially with the hundreds of thousands of drivers flocking to the Raleigh area during the 2015 N.C. State Fair -because speeding contributes to 33 percent of all crashes according to studies by the Federal Highway Administration. Thirty-one percent of all fatal wrecks are blamed on speed.
In the Fortify zone, speeding is the number one contributor to crashes. Most wrecks in the Fortify work zone have been fender-benders -with drivers going too fast or not paying attention and suddenly coming upon a vehicle that has suddenly slowed down or stopped.
"Speeding reduces a driver's ability to steer safely around curves or objects in the roadway," said state traffic engineer J. Kevin Lacy. "It extends the distance necessary to stop a vehicle and increases the distance a vehicle travels while the driver reacts to a dangerous situation."
In the Fortify work zone, engineers determined 60 mph -down from 65 mph -to be the safest driving speed. Signs are clearly posted at every ramp of the 8.5-mile project to remind motorists of the reduced speed limit.
Dangerous driving situations are commonplace in work zones due to the nature of road construction-narrow lanes, barrier walls and congested traffic. Factor in the heavy traffic expected in Fortify during the State Fair with the lack of compliance to the speed limit, and you can see why the NCDOT is concerned about the increased safety risk.
Another dangerous practice is drivers have been using open shoulders to move ahead of slow or stopped traffic.It is a careless move that can not only lead to a crash but also add to traffic backups.
"Slow down and allow extra time to get where you're going, "said Jack Pedro, Fortify's NCDOT project inspector. "Map your route and if possible, go around the work zone to avoid speeders and the project obstacle course altogether."
With the fair underway, Pedro offers a few words of advice to those who are traveling through the work zone to get to the Ferris wheel and fair food.
"Don't let the excitement of 'getting there' distract you from 'getting there' safely," he said. "Slow down."
To help fairgoers avoid traffic delays, NCDOT has extended restrictions on construction lane closures during the 11-day fair.
Look for barrier walls to go up soon on both sides of the project -at the U.S. 1 North on ramp to I-40 East, as well as along I-40 West between the split with I-440 and South Saunders Street.