Summer, or “construction season” as it is sometimes called, is the time of year when significant work is done on our roads, highways, and bridges. If you’re taking a family road trip this summer, the odds are slim that you won’t pass through at least one construction zone with lane closures, uneven pavement, barriers in place of shoulders, and of course, workers doing their job.
Thousands of Construction Zone Fatalities
All of the foregoing and many more road conditions related to construction present heightened risks for both drivers and those working on the roads. According to the Connecticut Department of Transportation, more than four out of five work zone traffic fatalities are drivers or passengers. In Connecticut, 37 people were killed in highway work zones from 2004 to 2013. Nationally, the highway zone death toll was more than 7,600 during that time, including 600 killed in 2012 and nearly 580 killed in 2013, according to the Federal Highway Administration.
In attempts to reduce these numbers, Connecticut, like every other state, imposes steep penalties and fines for driving infractions in highway work zones. Fines are doubled for any moving violations that occur in construction zones, and drivers who injure or kill a highway worker, for example, could serve significant jail time.
Construction Zone Safety Tips
The most common causes of construction zone accidents are speeding, tailgating, disregarding signs and signals, inattentive driving, and improper or reckless merging. ConnDOT has a number of tips for driving safely in work zones, including:
- Expect the Unexpected.Things may change overnight on the routes you travel every day. Normal speed limits may be reduced; traffic lanes and sidewalks may be closed, narrowed, or shifted; and people may be working on or near the road.
- Stay Alert.Dedicate your full attention to the roadway and avoid distraction while approaching and driving/walking/biking in a work zone.
- Keep a Safe Distancebetween you and the car ahead of you. Rear-end collisions account for 30% of work zone crashes.
- Obey Speed Limit.Speeding is one of the major causes of work zone crashes.
- Keep Up with the Traffic Flow.Don’t slow down to look at road work.
- Obey Road Crew Flaggers and Pay Attention to the Signs.The flagger knows what is best for moving all road users safely through the work zone. The construction signs are there to help everyone move safely through the work zone.
- Know Before You Go.Check radio, TV, and websites for traffic information; and schedule enough time so you can reach your destination on time and safely.
Slow traffic and delays due to highway construction can definitely be frustrating, but failing to adhere to common sense and posted safety rules could be tragic.
James “Jim” Nugent: Your Connecticut Auto and Tractor-Trailer Accident Lawyer
I have worked hard to build a reputation as one of Connecticut’s premier lawyers advocating for accident victims’ rights, including the rights of those injured in auto accidents and collisions with tractor-trailers. If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident, please call me today at (203) 795-1111 for a free consultation.