Road construction work helps maintain important infrastructure. Motorists need it to maintain, repair, and improve roads, bridges, and highways, which can fall into dangerous states of disrepair with time. However, the very nature of the construction process interrupts normal driving patterns and creates a serious risk of accidents. Both construction workers and motorists are at risk for injuries in work zone accidents, many of which are due to the negligence of one of the involved parties. In such cases, an experienced Texas auto accident attorney can help you hold the negligent party responsible and obtain financial recovery for your injuries.
Road Work Zone Auto Accidents Can Kill Workers
Cars constantly pass highway construction zones at fast speeds, making road work highly dangerous. Many drivers do not appreciate the risks at which they place construction workers in these zones and fail to adhere to lower speed limits or other restrictions. Every year, motorists kill or seriously injure construction workers when they are simply doing their jobs.
Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) data reveals that in recent years, more than 4,400 persons died in work zone collisions. A driver or passenger in a vehicle died in 85 percent of fatal work zone crashes, and drivers formed the largest percentage. An additional 200,000 persons sustained injuries in construction zone car accidents. Working-age adults constitute the majority of people killed and injured in these accidents, according to the FHWA.
In 2016, Texas work zones saw 25,713 crashes, resulting in 181 fatalities—an increase of 27 percent from the previous year. While many TxDOT workers are injured or killed in work zones, motorists make up 82 percent of work zone fatalities, according to the Texas Department of Transportation.
Road Work Zone Safety Regulations
To avoid accidents, regulations require that all road construction crews clearly designate the beginning and end of any active road work zones. They plaster construction zones with orange cones, wear bright vests, and place a plethora of warning signs to notify drivers to reduce speed and increase caution. In addition, construction companies have the legal duty to properly train road crews in safety measures and the crews have the duty to keep the road zone safe for passing motorists.
Despite these efforts, human error in following regulations or navigating through the construction zone, poor road design, confusing signs, or unsafe behavior by construction workers or drivers can significantly increase the chances of getting into a car accident.
Negligence in Road Work Zones
To prevent dangerous driving in work zones, the law imposes severe penalties and fines for drivers who violate speed limits and other traffic laws when construction workers and warning signs are both present. Negligent acts by drivers may include:
- Not following the directions of signs or workers directing traffic
- Improper passing
- Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs (DUI)
- Texting or other types of distracted driving
- Driving in closed lanes
Negligent construction workers and companies can lead to auto accidents as well. Examples of road work crew negligence include:
- Failing to post necessary signs to warn drivers about work zones, lane closures, traffic congestion, or other possible obstacles
- Tools, supplies, or machinery left where traffic could hit it
- Objects falling from heavy machinery into traffic
- Improperly directing traffic when necessary on one-lane roads
- Constructions vehicles pulling out into oncoming traffic without watching
- Construction workers standing or walking in the path of traffic
- Not properly repairing or a road or constructing a safe road
Avoiding Rear-End Collisions
In work zones, traffic can back up and drivers often leave little or no space between their own cars and leading vehicles. Drivers frustrated by slower work-zone speeds or heavy traffic sometimes become more aggressive and exhibit road rage. The tightly packed area may leave little room for motorists to escape an accident, especially when parts of the road close due to construction.
Drivers must understand the added risks of work zone accidents, especially rear-end collisions. The most common kinds of crashes in work areas, drivers can easily prevent them.
Most motorists traveling through work zones can safely avoid causing rear-end car accidents if they simply slow down and leave enough space—generally, a four-second gap—between their cars and the cars in front of them. Most fatal work-zone accidents take place on roads with speed limits exceeding 50 miles per hour, so drivers should remain acutely aware of their following distances.
Whether the injured accident victim was a driver, passenger, or construction worker, they have the legal right to recover compensation for their losses from the negligent party. The many complex interactions that may have played a part in causing the accident require a thorough investigation to build a strong legal claim.
Call for a Free Consultation With a Houston Auto Accident Attorney
If you were in a road work zone accident, speak to a knowledgeable lawyer as soon as possible. The experienced Houston law firm of Stewart J. Guss strives to provide the highest quality representation for road work zone accident victims, and do our best to hold accountable all potentially liable parties for the full extent of your injuries and related damages.
To schedule a free case evaluation with the attorneys of Stewart J. Guss, Attorney at Law, call today at (281) 664-6500 or send us an email through our online contact form. Remember—you pay us nothing up front when we take your case, and you pay us nothing unless and until we’ve won your financial recovery.