Why Oklahoma teens need to learn how to drive in construction zones

Starting Nov. 1, Oklahoma teenagers applying for a driver’s license will have a new hurdle to clear: learn how to drive safely in road construction zones.

Poor decisions by drivers of all ages continue to put road crews in danger of being killed or seriously injured on the job. People who work just a few feet from busy highway traffic are highly vulnerable to distracted drivers, speeders, drunk drivers and other negligent motorists. With little to protect them from a multi-ton vehicle traveling at highway speeds, severe, life-threatening injuries are all too common.

Despite the danger, American drivers still disregard speed limits and other precautions in construction zones. U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg has called it a “national crisis of fatalities and serious injuries on our roadways.” While all types of negligence are causing these tragedies, distracted drivers have caused especially big problems.

30-minute online course

Here in Oklahoma, the authorities are stepping up their efforts to teach new drivers how to navigate road construction safely. Starting Nov. 1, the state Department of Transportation will require people applying for an intermediate driver’s license to take a free course on work zone safety. The course is online and takes about 30 minutes to complete. ODOT collaborated with several organizations, including the Association of Oklahoma General Contractors, to develop the lesson. For the past year, the course has been available on a voluntary basis, but soon will be required.

Will bad drivers start respecting road workers?

Education is important, and could help reduce car accidents in construction zones over the next several years. But many of these incidents are caused by older drivers who know better but choose to act negligently anyway. Then it is up to the victims and their personal injury attorneys to pursue the compensation they deserve.