Both roads and construction sites are inherently dangerous places. Vehicles often travel at high speed and sometimes recklessly. Meanwhile, construction zones have heavy trucks and equipment, large rocks, volatile materials, and other hazards. Put them together and the terms become even more uncertain. This is why accidents in construction zones are such a serious problem and unfortunately the number of accidents reported is increasing year on year.
Construction zones have changing, sometimes unpredictable driving conditions and potential obstacles that can endanger both drivers and workers. As the metropolitan areas in the rest of the country expand and require frequent updates of all types of infrastructure, more and more road construction projects are in the works. In the state of Texas alone, with its rapidly growing population and 80,000 miles of freeway, there are around 3,000 active construction zones at any given time. With so many roads and highways under construction, the danger only increases for drivers and construction workers.
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Construction zone security: who is responsible?
The companies responsible for construction zones are responsible for many factors that contribute to the safety of work areas, including properly training workers, inspecting equipment, and implementing safety precautions. For example, construction companies are responsible for ensuring that the correct signage is posted far enough in front of a construction area. These signs should give approaching drivers adequate warning of speed limit changes, lane changes or closings, and potential hazards. Construction companies are also responsible for erecting cones, barrels and barriers, if necessary, to separate the construction areas from the main roads.
When an accident occurs in a construction zone, the question of who is to blame in a car accident becomes more complicated. The determination of liability depends on the factors relevant at the time of the accident. Was the driver distracted, impatient, driving fast, under the influence of alcohol or drugs, or otherwise recklessly? Did the weather conditions play a role in the accident, such as B. slippery roads during a rainstorm that make it difficult for the driver to steer or slow down? Or were there problems related to the construction zone itself, possibly due to negligence on the part of the construction company? Certain factors that are the contractor’s responsibility, such as insufficient lighting or insufficient traffic control in the construction zone, could also have contributed to the crash.
If it is found that the driver involved in the accident did something reckless or illegal that caused the accident, he can be held liable – even if the accident took place within a construction zone. Driving through construction zones, ignoring signs and ignoring warnings about lane changes or speed limits is usually the sole responsibility of the driver. If a driver drives on roads that are closed due to construction work, the resulting accidents are likely to be the responsibility of the driver alone. However, the drivers would not be to blame if it could be proven that they accidentally entered the closed road due to a lack of signage or barriers.
Statistics on construction injuries
There are many different types of construction work, including construction zones on highways and other roads. General statistics on construction accidents show that all types of construction workers, including road workers, have a disproportionately high incidence of accidents compared to accidents involving workers in other industries. This clearly shows that building zones are very dangerous places.
This sobering reality is supported by construction injury statistics from the Center for Construction Research and Education, which show construction workers have a 75% chance of becoming disabled at some point in their construction career. Additionally, their chance of suffering a fatal injury while at work is a shocking 1 in 200.
The danger to construction zones is not exclusively reserved for workers. In fact, the risks to drivers and passengers driving through work areas are even greater. According to the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT), there were over 25,000 accidents in construction zones nationwide in 2018, resulting in 684 serious injuries and 161 deaths – almost all of them among drivers or passengers and not on-site workers.
What is the speed limit in a building zone?
If you’ve ever been confused about how fast you can go on road works, you are not alone. Drivers should take extra care to observe the stated speed limits when approaching or driving through construction zones – and not just because the fines for drivers caught accelerating in a work zone with workers present will be doubled. Compliance with the speed limit is particularly important in these zones as the consequences of not complying with them can be catastrophic. According to TxDOT, speeding is the leading cause of work-related accidents across the state, along with driver inattention.
Speed limits in construction zones vary from zone to zone based on factors such as the original regular pre-construction speed limit, how far the workers and the area under construction are from passing lanes, what type of barrier separates traffic from the work area, and how wide Lanes are within the construction zone. Depending on these factors, the speed limit in a construction zone can be as low as 15 miles per hour or 65 miles per hour.
Note that the specified speed limits on every road, including within work areas, represent the maximum permitted speed. Drivers must proceed to the best of their knowledge and belief when driving on every road and especially within a work zone. It may be necessary to travel at speeds that are below the maximum limit and sometimes well below to accommodate traffic, weather, or unexpected hazards such as potholes, rough surfaces, or abruptly changing lanes.
The most common construction accidents
In an industry as dangerous as construction, there are many different types of accidents that can result in injury and even death. In general, the most common construction accidents are the most common when workers fall from a great height, e.g. B. of ladders or scaffolding. These types of accidents account for a full third of all construction accidents.
The number of injuries and deaths on construction sites involving vehicles and mobile heavy equipment is alarmingly high. From 2008 to 2010, more than half of all road construction deaths were vehicles. In fact, over 400 workers are killed in these tragedies each year. Most of these injuries involved a construction worker on foot who was hit by a vehicle entering the work zone or heavy equipment while working. In other fatal accidents, workers have been trapped in or between vehicles or mobile devices, or died from fires and explosions caused by a vehicle part.
If workers work during the day in hot summer months, there is a risk of heat stroke and overexertion. Slipping and falling accidents, electric shocks, impacts from a passing vehicle and interference from defective devices are also common injuries on the construction site. In each of these cases, there are a multitude of factors that make it a complicated process to determine exactly what happened and who is responsible for the damage.
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Common causes of road construction accidents
Badly maintained highways are one of the most common causes of road construction accidents. If a road under construction has potholes, poor lighting, traffic delays or other obstacles to safe driving, the contractor responsible for the construction zone has not carried out due diligence. A construction zone with markings and barriers should be established through which vehicles can be safely driven.
Improper or inadequate signage is another common cause of road accidents. Drivers need adequate warning before approaching a construction zone in order to slow down, collapse, change lanes, keep an eye out for work vehicles and workers, or otherwise safely navigate the construction area. If orange, diamond-shaped warning signs are not placed far enough in front of the construction zone or there are too few signs to alert drivers, the likelihood of accidents is higher.
Because there are many potential factors that contribute to accidents in construction zones, these cases are complex to deal with. Comprehensive knowledge of traffic laws and safety aspects of building zones, as well as an obligation to uncover all factors and information related to the case, is required. Only then can a fair judgment be made and the maximum possible compensation claimed back.
Trust the experienced personal injury attorneys at Slack Davis Sanger
Any vehicle accident can be a devastating event that can result in injury, loss of livelihood, loss of financial resources, and even death. If you have been seriously injured as a result of road construction – whether as a driver or passenger in a vehicle or if you have lost a loved one in a construction zone accident – you need a dedicated accident attorney by your side who will fight for you under the statutory right to compensation.
The determined and experienced attorneys at Slack Davis Sanger have long been committed to making roads safer and have decades of experience with serious and complicated accidents in construction zones. We advocated safer traffic laws and stricter requirements for construction companies to make workspaces safer for everyone – including construction workers, drivers and passengers. We treat our customers’ cases with great compassion and care as we work towards justice to obtain the greatest possible compensation for their loss, injury, pain and suffering.