Who Is Responsible for a Car Accident in a Construction Zone?
No one expects to be injured in an accident, especially when a driver hits the road on a familiar path. But driving through a construction work zone with many detours and hazards is a completely different story.
Car crashes that occur in construction zones are a serious problem across the U.S. According to the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), more than 4,400 individuals were killed in construction work zone crashes in a five-year period. Approximately 85% of these fatalities were the driver of or a passenger within a vehicle.
Below, we discuss the dangers that lurk in these areas, steps you can take to stay safe while traveling through then, and what to do if you are injured in a construction zone.
Safety Precautions That Construction Sites Should Take
Construction companies are held to heightened safety standards. Each construction site will require measures in order to ensure the safety of vehicle occupants, pedestrians, motorcycle and bicycle riders, and construction workers.
The Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) provides construction zone safety tips that comply with federal regulations:
- Build a temporary management plan that includes a traffic control plan
- Set up boundaries to keep unauthorized vehicles and pedestrians from entering
- Use proper signage that alerts traffic of any detours or changes; this includes the use of traffic zones, buffer zones, proper signage, etc.
- Utilize safety devices to protect debris from falling into the roadway
- Do not store equipment or tools out in the open or near construction zone edges
- Utilize audible messages and instructions to aid pedestrians who are visually impaired
Common Causes of Construction Zone Car Crashes
Ultimately, construction companies that don’t take the necessary safety precautions can be held liable if a related car crash and injuries occur. Some common examples of construction roadway negligence include:
- Failure to properly train employees
- Negligent hiring of construction workers
- Lack of adequate road warning signs
- Unreasonably narrow lanes
- Unreasonably confusing detours
- Construction equipment left on the highway
- Falling debris or debris left in the road
How to Safely Navigate a Construction Zone While Driving
Motorists should always take extra precautions and remain hyper-vigilant when driving through a work zone. Here are some tips that you can follow in order to keep yourself, your passengers, workers, and others safe:
Reduce Your Speed
Nearly all construction zones post lower speed limits. Fines for speeding are typically doubled in these areas because of the increased risk of danger. When driving through a construction zone, be sure to follow the temporary speed limit so that you have time to brake if an unexpected road hazard pops up in front of your vehicle.
Watch for Detours
When construction is taking place on major roads or highways, workers may have to detour traffic away from the site. Signs will be posted all along the detour route to guide drivers back to their intended path.
These changes can be stressful for drivers who may worry they will get lost or miss the next detour sign. Proceed with caution in these areas and constantly scan the road for signage and direction. If you know that a construction site is up ahead, you can also reroute to avoid it.
Practice Safe Merging and Lane Changing
Be aware that lane changes may be prohibited in some construction zones. For instance, some one-way roads may be used for traffic in both directions, so it’s important to always be aware of where to position your vehicle ahead of time so you can get in the proper entrance/exit lane.
Keep a Safe Distance from Construction Workers and Equipment
Barriers should be set up in order to keep the flow of traffic away from construction workers, unsafe surfaces, and equipment that can turn into a potential road hazard. Without pushing your vehicle into another lane or barrier, always try to keep distance between your car and workers on the ground. Be aware of any temporary channeling devices, such as orange traffic cones.
Remain at a Safe Distance from the Vehicle in Front of You
Rear-end crashes are one of the most common types of car accidents within construction zones. This is often the result of detours, confusion, slower reaction times, and tailgating. To prevent hitting the vehicle in front of you, always give yourself a cushion so that you have time to brake in the event that the other driver slows down or stops completely.
Familiarize Yourself with Construction Road Signs
Construction warning signs will alert you of danger or potential hazards ahead. If you are aware of a construction zone that you will be driving through, here are a few signs to familiarize yourself with:
- Road Work Sign Ahead Sign. Road work will be occurring a short distance ahead, so drivers should prepare accordingly.
- Two Way Sign. Traffic will be traveling in two ways in an area that normally has one-way traffic.
- Merge Sign. The lane is about to end and drivers will have to merge in the adjacent lane.
- Flag Man Sign. A flagger will be positioned ahead to direct traffic to slow, stop, or go.
- Detour Sign. A detour is up ahead and traffic will be rerouted.
- End Road Work Sign. The road work has ended and drivers can resume their normal speed and driving practices.
What To Do If You’re Injured in a Construction Zone
Despite following the tips above, we recognize that accidents can still happen. As with any car accident, you should always follow certain steps after a car crash on a work site:
- Seek medical attention
- Report the injury to the police and construction company
- Document the conditions at the site (photos, notes, etc.)
- Obtain the contact information of witnesses
- Contact a local car accident attorney
If you have been injured in a construction zone in a car crash, we understand how devastating and stressful the process can be. While some car accident cases can be fairly straightforward, those that occur in construction sites can be more complex when it comes to determining potentially liable parties.
At the Law Offices of Vic Feazell, we believe in fighting for justice on behalf of innocent people injured due to the negligent actions of others. Our legal team will collect all the necessary evidence from the scene of the crash, as well as a history of safety precautions that the construction company implemented, to build a solid case on your behalf. This way, you have the best possible chances of receiving a maximum financial recovery.
Contact the Law Offices of Vic Feazell at (512) 271-5278 to get started with a free consultation. You can also fill out our online contact formand we will get back to you as soon as we can.