Roadside construction zones can be frustrating and time-consuming for drivers, especially when multiple lanes of traffic are reduced to one or two. However, construction zones are necessary in keeping the roads safe and passable. In major cities across the United States, roadside construction is an almost constant occurrence in order to keep with the continual demand of increased traffic.
Construction zones are also prone to traffic accidents, which prolong delays, further complicates traffic flow, increase completion dates to repair the damage. Over 4,000 traffic accidents have been reported in construction zones since 2011, with over 1,500 injured and over 20 deaths reported.
In warmer months, expressways, highways, and high-traffic areas are often under construction and are frequently during night hours in states with hotter climate. Crew workers are most vulnerable in construction zones, sometimes working mere feet from passing vehicles while also performing tasks with equally dangerous equipment. While workers have their own safety protocols, they must also rely on motorists being conscientious of their surroundings, obeying the speed limit and traffic laws, and using extreme caution to keep them safe.
There are many causes of car accidents in construction zones, including:
- Reduced lanes: Road construction almost always affects the number of through lanes while work is being performed. The reduction of lanes slows traffic, and accidents usually occur when motorists do not follow posted speed limits or drive too closely to the vehicle in front of them.
- Obstacles: The work taking place in construction zones can sometimes present obstacles in the roadway which can lead to an accident.
- Speeding: Ignoring the posted speed limit in construction zones can lead to severe accidents. Pay attention and adjust your speed to the posted speed limit.
- Poor lighting: Construction zones can be difficult or confusing to drive through in the best of conditions. It can be an overwhelming obstacle during the night, especially in poorly-lit zones.
- Work crew: Accidents happen when careless workers leave debris and other obstacles in the driving lane, misplace signs, safety cones, and barrels, poor traffic management, and more.
How Can I Avoid a Car Accident in a Construction Zone?
Driving safely through roadside construction zones is crucial, especially to keep crew workers and motorists safe from harm. To decrease your risk of an accident in a construction zone, you should take the following steps:
- Plan ahead: If you are aware of road construction along your route, take the time beforehand to map out a different route to avoid the area if possible. If not, allow yourself extra time to reach your destination so you can drive through the construction zone slowly and safely.
- Obey the flaggers: Nearly every road construction crew posts flaggers at the beginning and end of the work zones. Pay close attention to the flaggers and follow their directions to safely travel through the zone. Flaggers are most common in road construction sites that eliminate all but one lane of traffic, and cars going either direction must use the same lane. Flaggers stop one flow of traffic to allow the drivers going the opposite direction to pass through and vice versa. Ignoring the flagger and driving straight into the construction zone could cause a dangerous accident.
- Keep your distance: Maintain a safe distance between you and the vehicle in front of you. Rear-end collisions are the most common traffic accident in construction zones, according to the U.S. Federal Highway Administration. Traffic frequently stops suddenly in congested areas, such as roadside construction zones. Equipment, workers, and other obstacles in the roadway bring traffic to a sudden standstill, and cars following too closely might collide.
- Avoid distractions: Using cellphones, eating, fiddling with the radio or onboard technology, arguing with children, playing with pets, and applying makeup are common activities some drivers engage in behind the wheel. In construction zones, there are safety signs to follow, new traffic patterns, and often workers in the area. Taking your eyes off the road, even for a second, can lead to a car accident in a construction zone.
- Follow the signs: Although drivers are meant to adhere to all roadway signs while driving, it is especially necessary to read and follow all signage ahead of and through the construction zone. Typically, construction zones reroute travel lanes in order to conduct work on others. Many signs are posted throughout the area to move traffic through safely. Ignoring the signage could have disastrous consequences.
- Obey the speed limit: Stick to the posted speed limit while traveling through a construction zone, not only for your own safety, but for the safety of workers as well.
- Use exaggerated lane changes: Leading up to the zone, there will be multiple signs announcing the construction work ahead and directing you to move into a specific lane. When you encounter signs, start signaling your lane change three seconds before merging and use seven seconds to make the merge, monitoring the road in front and behind you.
- Turn lights on: Most newer model cars are equipped with automatic headlights that are turned on when the car is operational. If not, turn on your headlights in a construction zone, even in daylight hours. Running the headlights make you more visible to other motorists and workers.
- Keep calm: Navigating through a construction zone can be both frustrating and harrowing. It can be intimidating to have many obstacles, structures, and people so close to all four sides of the vehicle. Cement barriers and the water-filled collision barrels can even feel somewhat claustrophobic at times. Take deep, steady breaths, move slowly, and pay attention.
What if I am Injured in an Accident?
If you are injured in a car accident due to another party’s negligence, you may be able to recover damages for your injuries and property damage. The at-fault driver might be liable for your present and future medical bills related to the injuries and loss of income if you are unable to work as a result of the accident. Severe injuries, such as brain injuries or disfigurement, may result in a permanent disability and the inability to work again.
If the accident results in a death, the deceased’s family might be able to sue for damages as well. Compensation for wrongful death might cover funeral expenses, income loss, loss of companionship, and more.
Car accidents that occur in construction zones can be complex when it comes to filing a claim for damages, as there may be more than one liable party. If an accident occurs due to poor traffic management, debris in the road, or inadequate signage, a government entity, construction company, or both might be responsible for the accident.
Virginia Beach Car Accident Lawyers at Anchor Legal Group, PLLC Assist Clients Involved in Road Construction Car Accidents
A car accident in a construction zone can be traumatic and life-altering, and it can plunge the injured party into financial hardship. If you have been injured in a collision in a construction zone, our experienced Virginia Beach car accident lawyers at Anchor Legal Group, PLLC can help. Call us at 757-LAW-0000 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation. Located in Virginia Beach, we serve clients throughout Chesapeake, Norfolk, Suffolk, Portsmouth, Newport News, Hampton, and Eastern Shore. We also serve our clients throughout the United States through our network of associated attorneys.