Road Construction Accidents
We know that road construction is necessary to keep the roads in good condition, but it is really probably the last thing we want to see when traveling. This is especially true when in a hurry. When road construction traffic occurs during rush hour, traffic can back up for miles in some cases, and this causes many to be late for work and appointments.
All this inconvenience creates impatience, and while it is irritating, it is seriouslydangerous. Manyaccidentsoccur every year in construction zones, but with a few tips and some patience, most of these accidents can be avoided and construction workers and drivers protected.
The powerful statistics on road construction accidents clearly show the dangers in these areas. The statistics for 2015 show that a crash occurred in a construction zone every 5.4 minutes on average. While not all these crashes were serious, it does show how dangerous these areas can be. The more sobering statistics showed that every day on average, 70 injuries occurred and every week on average, 12fatalities occurred because of work zone crashes.
Causes of Crashes
In construction zones, safety relies on everyone involved. The construction crews need to make the zone safe with proper directions posted for the drivers, and the drivers need to follow the posted directions. When either of these is not done correctly, the consequences can be tragic.
Construction Crew’s Responsibility.The responsibility of the construction crew is to adequately prepare the traffic to be in the construction zone and inform them on how to drive within the zone. They have to warn traffic of the upcoming construction zone, tell them which lane to use, post the correct speed limit, and put up proper barriers to mark where the construction begins.
Also, the crew must keep the lane that traffic is using clear. They must keep all the equipment used within the confines of the construction zone, and be careful to warn and direct traffic if machinery needs to enter the traffic area. In the end, the construction crew must have repaired the road and left it safe for drivers to use.
Driver’s Responsibility.While the responsibility of the drivers is simpler than the construction crew’s, it is just as important. The basic responsibility of the drivers is to follow the directions that the crew has set. The first step they must take is to be attentive while driving so that they don’t miss any important signs. Then, they must follow the directions on the signs. This means slowing down to the newly posted speed limit, knowing which lane to use, and using other important information.
The drivers must also watch for the safety of themselves and others as unforeseen events can occur in construction zones. Construction equipment or debris may accidentally be in the traffic area or another driver may be unsafely not following the directions set by the crew. Drivers cannot assume that simply following directions will ensure safety, but must always be watching for other hazards and be prepared to safely react.
Why Crashes Occur.Clearly, a lot must happen for crashes to be avoided. The construction crew and drivers must work together to ensure safety. Unfortunately, this does not always happen, and when either group acts unsafely, crashes can and do easily occur, and, all too often, with injurious or fatal consequences.
How to Stay Safe in Construction Zones
While staying safe in construction zones should be similar to regular driving, there are a few extra points to note.
┬À Be patient. This is probably the biggest problem in construction zones. Drivers are often in a hurry to reach their destination and construction zones delay their arrival. Sometimes being late may have significant consequences for the driver, but rarely are they as serious as being in an accident. It is best for the driver and everyone else to be patient.
┬À Follow the signs. Watch for directions such as what lane to use and the construction speed limit. These are there for the safety of the traffic and the construction crew alike, so it is best for all involved if the signs are followed.
┬À Stay alert. Because of the reduced speed and delays, it can be tempting to use the phone, tune the radio, or program the GPS in construction zones. However, because activity in these zones is often unpredictable, they are places where extra attention is needed.
┬À Watch for additional instructions. Due to the nature of road work, the crew may have to cross traffic with equipment or change the traffic pattern temporarily. It is important to always be on the lookout for these changes and especially for the flagmen in the road.
┬À Don’t follow too closely. Because of the slower speeds in construction zones, it may seem like it would not be dangerous to be closer to other drivers. This is further complicated by the tendency to tailgate when impatient. Due to the unpredictability of these areas, however, extra room should be allowed because sudden stops or obstacles are always possible.
┬À Keep your lights on. Keeping headlights on, even during the day, is an added precaution to help you be more visible to other drivers and construction workers. It will, of course, help you also if it is early in the morning or late in the evening.
Road construction zones can be dangerous, but they are necessary to keep the roads in a safe condition in the future. Patiently following the instructions given by the road crew can help to ensure the safety of all involved. Be sure to reduce speed and watch for the actions of other drivers and construction workers. The goal of road construction is to make the road safer. You can do your part by keeping the road safe during construction.
Department of Transportationhttps://ops.fhwa.dot.gov/wz/resources/facts_stats/safety.htm
Department of Transportationhttps://safety.fhwa.dot.gov/wz/resources/fhwasa03012/
Traffic School Onlinehttps://trafficschoolonline.com/blog/construction-zone-safety
Jeffery Robinette was admitted to practice law in 1991 and is licensed in all levels of state and federal trial courts in West Virginia. Mr. Robinette is also licensed in all state and federal appeals courts in West Virginia and the United States Supreme Court. As a National Board Certified Trial Attorney who has handled hundreds of motor vehicle, injury, and construction defect claims and a leading author on insurance claims settlement issues and difficulties in West Virginia, Jeff Robinette is uniquely qualified to represent your best interest.