RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – Construction zones are a familiar scene on roads in and around Wake County, but are crashes more frequent in those areas?

When it comes to construction zones, they can slow down traffic even when there is no rush hour in effect. Add to that an accident and you’ve got double the trouble.

The perception is when you travel in a construction or work zone, there are more accidents there than on other parts of the road.

The North Carolina State Highway Patrol tracks fatal crashes in work zones. 

“This year, we have seen a decrease in our work zone fatalities,” said Sgt. Chris Knox.

In 2022, statewide, there were 32 fatal work zone crashes

So far this year to date, the State Highway Patrol has reported 28 fatal work zone crashes.

Many times, an accident in a work zone will lead to a secondary crash.

“That secondary event might be even more of an impactful event than the first event,” said Knox.

When it comes to tracking non-fatal work zone crashes, they are a bit more difficult to quantify.

There are a range of things to consider, including different numbers of lanes in different areas, different alignments of the road during different periods of construction, and also the different traffic patterns that were used in recent years as construction zones.

Even so, those numbers too show a decline since 2019.

We asked NCDOT to break down all work zone crashes in Wake and Durham Counties for past three years. 

They report:

  • Between 2019 and 2021, there were 1,904 work zone crashes 
  • Between 2021 and  September 2023, there were 1,189 work zone crashes

Meanwhile, when there is a work zone accident, the Highway Patrol says it can be challenging to respond to it because of congestion, concrete barriers and other impediments.

“We’re trying to get EMS there and fire and tow vehicles to get the roadway clear,” said Knox. “When an event does happen in a work zone, it does pose some extra challenges that we have to work around.”

Construction zones also have lower speed limits with fines that are doubled.

However, because of the configuration of work zones, the Highway Patrol says the fining of violators is also more challenging.