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If you've ever broken down or had a flat tire along a busy highway, you know how scary it can be to be sitting there helpless as vehicles whiz by, many of the going far above the posted speed limit.

Imagine dealing with that every day as a worker in one of the highway construction zones.

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Today marks the beginning of National Work Zone Awareness Week. This year's theme is "Expect the Unexpected." It is the same theme that was used 15 years ago when the awareness week was created, and the warning is just applicable today as it was then.

Workers in construction zones have to deal with motorists who may disregard the law or not be paying attention, putting the workers' lives at risk. But just as many of the accidents, injuries and deaths involve other vehicles.

According to the Federal Highway Administration, more than 4,400 people have died in work zone crashes and another 200,000 injured in the last five years. Drivers, the FHA says, are the most frequent fatality in work zone crashes.

Rear-end crashes are the most common form of construction zone crash, the FHA says.

To avoid problems, especially during the summer months when roadwork typically picks up, drivers should keep their full attention on the road and avoid distractions. That includes talking on the cell phone, changing the radio station, eating or anything else.

Pay close attention to the signs, merging into the proper lanes when prompted, and giving other drivers a break so that they can merge safely into the correct lanes.

Other tips include putting on your headlights and refraining from tailgating. You also need to exercise a little more patience.

Summer is a time when more people get out on vacations or just weekend getaways so traffic increases on our roadways. Unfortunately, summer is also a peak time for roadwork. When traveling, give road workers, and other drivers, a break by using extra caution, reducing your speed and paying close attention to the road.

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