Highways, expressways, and heavy traffic areas are constantly undergoing construction. Many drivers are nervous when navigating through work zones, and with good reason. These areas can be extremely dangerous, and careless drivers who fail to exercise caution when traveling through them put workers and other drivers in serious jeopardy. Trying to avoid hitting the numerous construction vehicles parked on the shoulder of the road, squeezing through narrow lanes of traffic, and putting up with unexpected detours and sudden lane changes frequently frustrate drivers, sometimes prompting them to take chances they later regret.
Why Construction Zones Create Hazards for Drivers
Construction zones are usually marked with orange cones, workers in bright vests, and plenty of warning signs that notify drivers to reduce their speed and increase caution, yet accidents still frequently occur. Narrowing of lanes can result in scraping on the sides of vehicles, and detours often cause drivers to become frustrated or confused, leading to collisions.
However, sometimes construction zones conceal or create hazards, often exposing motorists to numerous risks, including:
- Narrow roadways
- Missing guardrails
- Missing or obscured stop signs or traffic signals
- Unmarked shoulders with sharp drop-offs
- Heavy equipment operating in close proximity to vehicles traveling at high speeds
- Gravel and other loose material that leads to skidding
Construction Zone Accidents
Construction is unavoidable because roads need to be properly maintained. However, the construction process carries with it the potential to endanger drivers. A misplaced sign, loose debris, pathways blocked by machinery, and poor lighting can all make safe navigation of a construction zone very challenging.
Ignoring work zone speed limits and driving too fast through construction zones can result in fatalities. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 1,435 workers at road construction sites lost their lives between 2003-2014. Most of these accidents occur when drivers:
- Ignore changing road conditions
- Collide with other vehicles or roadside equipment
- Speed through work zones
- Veer off the road completely
Construction Zone Accident Liability
Construction sites change from day to day, and this constant state of flux can make it difficult for construction workers to realize the many dangers their work site creates for drivers. Work crews have a legal duty to take precautions in order to help prevent vehicle collisions due to these hazards. If an accident occurs due to inadequate warning signs or unmarked road hazards, the construction company responsible for maintaining the roadway may be held liable for monetary damages in a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit. Since the government is responsible for roadways and repairs, it also may be held liable for monetary damages.
When there is a construction zone accident, there are a number of potentially liable parties, including general contractors, subcontractors, and outside vendors. When applicable, workers should always make construction zones as safe as possible by:
- Receiving training on how to direct traffic safely
- Operating all heavy machinery and vehicles safely and in a manner that does not disturb the flow of traffic
- Keeping all debris, objects, and tools out of any lanes of traffic
- Clearing all tools, vehicles, and other obstructions out of the lanes of traffic at the end of the work day, and properly securing the work zone for after-hours
- Posting high-visibility signs far enough ahead to warn motorists of potentially hazardous conditions, including slower speed limits, detours, lane closures, uneven pavement, and stopped traffic ahead.
You Need an Experienced Attorney
If you’ve been injured in a construction zone vehicle accident, you need professional representation by a skilled and experienced attorney who will fight for your rights. A successful recovery may depend on a prompt and thorough investigation. Your lawyer can help determine if the construction zone’s design and markings contributed to your injuries. Contact the Law Office of Kearney, Freeman, Fogarty & Joshi, PLLC, by using the form on this page.