Avoiding Car Accidents in Highway Work Zones

Car accidents are one of the leading causes of death and injury in the United States. There are any number of contributing factors that could play a role in a car crash – operating under the influence, distracted driving, and speeding are all common causes. Some roadways are also more inherently dangerous than others. Highway work zones can be dangerous places for both cars and high workers alike. In fact, federal data from the Federal Highway Administration found that 200,000 sustained injury and 4,400 died in roadside construction crashes between 2009 and 2014. Of those that died, an overwhelming majority – 85% – were drivers or passengers.

Fortunately, there are a few simple ways you can reduce your risk of being in a highway work zone crash. Follow these tips:

Practice Safe and Defensive Driving

Drivers must use extra caution when operating their motor vehicles in a work zone. Follow these tips:

  • Stay alert. Minimize your distractions and keep your attention on the road. Put your phone out of reach, don’t play with the radio, and tell your passengers to keep quiet while you focus on the road ahead. Anything that removes your concentration from the road can be dangerous.
  • Turn your headlights on. In some work areas, this is the law, so it’s always a good idea to turn on your headlights in a work zone to increase your visibility, both to other drivers and to workers.
  • Obey the posted speed limit. Construction zones have slower speed limits for good reason. Workers may be just feet away from your vehicle, so always be aware of your surroundings. Be prepared to slow down even more if the occasion calls for it. Remember, the traffic fines are double in work zones.
  • Follow at a safe distance. Don’t tailgate the other driver in front of you, as this could cause a multiple car crash in a busy construction zone – one you could be liable for.
  • Merge and change lanes safely. Give yourself plenty of time to adjust to a new traffic pattern, and only change lanes when the pavement markings indicate that it’s safe to do so. Never cross a single or double solid yellow line.
  • Prepare for the unexpected. Keep in mind that workers, or work vehicles, may enter your lane with little warning. Other vehicles may also slow, stop, or enter your lane unexpectedly. Be alert and practice basic defensive driving skills to reduce your risk of a crash.

Observe Basic Construction Safety Rules

Construction zones often have flaggers and signs that indicate things like traffic shifts and impeding road work. Know the basic construction zone signs and what they mean:

  • Road work ahead: This indicates that a construction work zone is beginning. Slow down and be prepared to stop. These zones often have more traffic, so you might experience an abrupt change in traffic speed or flow. Be prepared for it.
  • Detour ahead: This means that the road ahead is closed for work. Prepare to follow the detour signs and use extra caution, as the roadways may be unfamiliar or have other signs posted.

Flaggers often assist in construction zone areas and direct traffic in an effort to keep the roadways running as smoothly as possible. If you notice a flagger, slow down and await his or her instruction. Give flaggers a wide berth and be alert for additional hazards as you pass.

Construction zones can be dangerous places, but by knowing some basic safety rules you can reduce your risk of crash and injury. Always use defensive driving skills and minimize your distractions while in a construction zone. Slow down and follow all posted signage. If you have been injured in a construction zone accident, contact the attorneys at Larry R. Williams, PLLC for a free case evaluation today.