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Work Zone Car Accidents

Work Zone Accidents Can be Fatal

Anyone who has driven on a highway – or any road, for that matter – has passed through a work zone where roadwork is being performed. The orange traffic cones guiding traffic away from lanes and other areas that are under construction, the flagmen stopping or directing traffic, bulldozers, backhoes and dump trucks doing whatever it is they do as the traffic goes by – these are familiar sights on American highways. Work zones on the roadways are common.

For this reason, work-zone traffic accidents also are common -- and lethal, to drivers and workers alike. According to the Federal Highway Administration, in 2015, the last year for which final statistics are available, on average:

  • A work zone traffic accident happened every 5.4 minutes;
  • There were 70 work zone crashes every day that resulted in an injury; and
  • Every week, 12 work zone crashes occurred that resulted in at least one fatality.

Of the work zone accidents in 2015, 73 percent of accidents only involved property damage. However, 26.4 percent involved at least one injury, while .7 percent involved at least one death. One might imagine that work-zone accidents are less frequent and less hazardous due to the reduced speeds and increased signage. However, these percentages closely mirror the percentages for all other traffic accidents, indicating that work-zone accidents are just as deadly as other traffic accidents outside of work zones. In 2014, work zone fatalities amounted to two percent of all traffic fatalities nationwide.

These numbers might not sound like much, but the vast majority of roads in the U.S. are not used as a work zone on any given day, so the contribution of work zone accidents to traffic deaths is not insignificant. The Federal Highway Administration reports that from 1982 through 2014, nearly 25,000 people died in work zone traffic accidents, an average of about 750 per year.

Further, the Bureau of Labor Statistics has reported that, from 2011-2015, traffic accidents accounted for 73 percent of work zone fatalities. In 61 percent of those fatalities, a worker was struck and killed by a vehicle.

Drivers Passing Through Work Zones are Also at Risk

While many of the hazards of a highway work zone most significantly impact the workers in that work zone, the hazards apply to drivers passing through the work zone, as well. Construction vehicles can pose a hazard to drivers passing through the work zone, as can myriad other conditions, such as poor traffic direction, improperly marked travel lanes and other dangers.

Accordingly, it is incumbent upon those managing a road construction zone – whether it is a government entity or a private company working under government contract – to follow certain safety guidelines. There must be a traffic control plan to guide traveling vehicles through areas where there are construction workers so that drivers, workers on foot, and pedestrians are able to clearly understand the routes they are supposed to follow. Traffic patterns must be clearly marked.

There need to be standard highway signs providing information, including speed limits, designated traffic lanes, and other information to guide drivers through the work zone safely. Such signs should be augmented by traffic cones, barrels, barricades, and delineator posts to guide traffic in the desired path while blocking traffic from entering construction zones. Where flagmen are employed, they should wear high visibility clothing and be illuminated at night. Signs should warn drivers in advance that a flagman is ahead. If a work zone is not marked and maintained safely, accidents become more likely.

If You Have Been Injured in a Work-Zone Accident in the Miami Area, Contact the Personal Injury Attorneys of Gerson & Schwartz

If you have been involved in a work-zone accident in the Miami area, you should consult an attorney to determine what your rights are. It is possible the accident was not your fault and you can recover for your damages.

The attorneys of Gerson & Schwartz can assist you in protecting your rights when you are involved in such an accident. You can reach us at (877) 475-2905 or through our website.

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