I recently spent more than an hour to travel a little over two miles in the construction north of DFW airport. So this article in the Dallas Morning News really struck a nerve with me. I’ll definitely be avoiding this area in the near future, and I recommend you do the same. If you do get stuck in construction, stay off your cell phone. Here are excerpts from the article:
Driving on state highways 114 and 121 north of Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport has become much more dangerous since the DFW Connector project began in February 2010.
Last year, the number of crashes in the tangle of highways was 52 percent higher than what researchers say it should have been without construction on the $1 billion project.
The numbers surged 74 percent during nights and weekends, when crews are busiest.
Most of the increases involved noninjury wrecks, numbers from the Texas Transportation Institute’s most recent crash data analysis show.
Overall, there were 787 crashes in the area around the project last year — 588 without injuries and 199 with injuries, according to the study. Rear-end collisions were by far the leading type of crash.
It was after seeing these rates remain high through multiple studies — the most recent published in March — that researchers decided to investigate the reason.
Now they think they know: It’s you.
That is, drivers in the corridor are much more likely to be on the phone while driving than is average for North Texas, according to a recent report by Jason Crawford, research manager for the institute’s North Texas office.
Just 6 percent of Dallas-area drivers use cellphones while driving, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The TTI team found that twice that many, or 12 percent, were talking on the phone while driving through the DFW Connector, Crawford said.
And that, he noted, doesn’t include drivers who were using hands-free devices, or checking email or sending texts from their lap.
It’s not certain that the higher number of crashes is related to distracted driving, however, because researchers counted the cars driven by phone users only during the day. Most of the increase in crashes has been at night, when contract rules permit the crews to close lanes and reconfigure traffic flow through the area.